Fan Expo 2015 Discovery: The Pitiful Human-Lizard By Jason Loo

Review by James Fulton, with an assist from Paul Miranda

Toronto has a new superhero, and as you might be able to tell from the adjective in his book’s title, he’s not all that impressive. I mean, the hero maybe isn’t, but the comic itself most definitely is quirky, refreshing, and has its own unique appeal.

Basically, the Human-Lizard is a vigilante-by-night, numbercruncher-by-day.  His father invented the name and costume as a way of selling adhesive (he used it to climb walls) and to become famous. Now Lucas, who I guess was heavily influenced by Kick-Ass, is trying to use the same get-up to do good in the world.  The problem is, he’s not very skilled at it.  His martial arts training has plateaued, as has his financial situation.

In the first issue, Lucas agrees to be a guinea pig for a drug company, and soon discovers that he has the ability to heal from any sort of damage self-inflicted or otherwise.  This gives him the opportunity to embrace the role he’s chosen, and he throws himself into his crime-fighting. The timing couldn’t be better as Toronto undergoes an outbreak of giant monsters and other weirdness.

Jason Loo writes and draws this series, and has self-published the first five issues through the Loo Harvest Group.  That is changing though, as the book will be published by Chapter House Publishing (the same company whose flagship title is the relaunched CAPTAIN CANUCK) starting this month.  The first five issues will be reprinted monthly, before new stories emerge in February 2016.

This series is quite amusing. Loo has populated the book with some interesting characters, such as the Superman-like Mother Wonder; the Majestic Rat, who speaks to the city’s vermin and is friend to all creatures; and Lady Accident, a potential love interest with a very short fuse.  Lucas’s parents are my favourite characters though, and, I discovered at a signing earlier in the summer, his mother looks an awful lot like Loo’s own mother. Coincidence? I think not!!

What really makes this book work for me are a couple of things. Loo fully embraces the storytelling style and aesthetics of mid-80’s Marvel Comics.  The fourth issue, which features a team-up between Lucas and Majestic Rat, borrows the cover logo from Power Man and Iron Fist.  As well, the pacing and structure of the stories is very reminiscent of that time period: each character gets some subplot that interconnects and carries over to subsequent issues.

The other thing that I love about this series is the extent to which Loo puts Toronto front and centre in the stories.  The characters are constantly interacting in real places (The Royal Ontario Museum, Honest Ed’s, Rasta Pasta, Snakes and Lagers), at a level I haven’t seen in a comic since SCOTT PILGRIM.  This should not be a barrier for non-Torontonian readers. I just appreciate that more thought is put into the setting. Loo resisted going for obvious Rob Ford jokes, but his character Rabb the Malevolent does bear some resemblance to our former mayor.

Loo really invests a lot of time in his characters, making them believable and sympathetic.  Barb, the woman who becomes Lady Accident, is interesting in the way in which she is both attracted to Lucas’s lifestyle, and turned off by his ineptitude.  Mother Wonder is, as her name suggests, a mother of three, yet makes time to almost constantly save the city.  There is a lot of depth here, and a strong sense of continuity.

Loo is a capable artist, who gives us a pretty standard-looking superhero comic.  His art works very well in the series, without overpowering or detracting from the story.  He sticks within that mid-80’s general look, but has updated it with a more minimalist approach.  He is excellent at conveying emotion through characters’ faces, especially Lucas’s mother.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a solid take on a classic superhero structure.  The book has some irony to it, and is definitely modern, but is also a solid, enjoyable comics experience.

Loo recently exhibited his wares at Fan Expo, and has long been a fixture of in-store signings in the Greater Toronto Area.  If you are interested in reading this fine comic, which is not available digitally, and you don’t live in our great city, you still have a few choices.

You can buy the self-published versions from Loo’s webstore here.  If you’re lucky, you might even score some of his excellent Made in Chinatown mini-comics that are usually available at in-person events.  

You can also get the Chapter House issues, which will be published this month.  Here are the Diamond Codes for the issues that have been solicited so far.  Ask your favourite comics store to order them for you!

#1 – JUL151193   Scheduled for Sept. 9

#2 – AUG151287

These five issues give you the chance to get in on the ground floor of a new and exciting superhero world, and they come highly recommended by two Inside Pulse writers.

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