FISK THE S.U.B.S.T.I.T.U.T.E., VOL. 1
Writer: Dino Caruso Art: Shawn Richison Publisher: Caliber Comics
WHAT IS IT?
An over-the-top, self-aware, school-themed spy comic.
Think Men In Black meets Last Action Hero!
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Agent Fisk is a S.U.B.S.T.I.T.U.T.E. You can find out what that translates to in the panel below, but what it essentially means is he gets brought into schools where weird, supernatural or otherwise dangerous things are happening.
As Fisk himself puts it, he "Gets called in to make big problems go away."
The book opens with a preliminary prequel chapter, explaining who Fisk is and what his job entails. It shows us what an average job for him looks like, especially when it goes right.
We're soon introduced to his new partner, who seems like a smart protege that he'll be training. We're also introduced to the mysterious briefcase Fisk carries, but never opens. He's saving it for a rainy day, he explains, and that's all we know. But for folks who've seen a movie or two, it's pretty obvious that this is both a MacGuffin and a Chekhov's Gun.
Shortly thereafter, a strange man jumps through a portal and steals the briefcase. And that's when the real trouble (and the fun) begins.
Caruso's writing takes "cheesy" and makes it work for an action-packed story with all the best comic book trappings, like spies, dimensional travel and a major showdown in the 3rd act
Richison's been doing this awhile and, with him on line art and letters, we get a great balance between the two
Full color, which is uncommon for an indie comic!
Just a fun, low-stakes comic for all ages
Fitting, fun and seemingly hand-drawn sound effects
Really great backmatter, including annotations, sketches, interviews and more
Wide open for more stories in the universe!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
If you're looking for a comic with a lot of depth, you may want to look elsewhere
For example, we don't really see what Fisk is motivated by or what he lives for, outside of just doing his job
That being said, this one's action-packed and fun as heck
Roughly half the book is prequel/backstory, which does a lot of set-up for the present-day stuff but kind of interrupts the forward progress a bit
All the events are pretty predictable, which is another reason it might be best suited for a younger audience or people just looking for a fun read
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's good, over-the-top fun for all ages, and it's got a lot of great sci-fi and action elements. Students and staff alike will get an extra kick out of this one. Sit back and enjoy!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Blue Hour by Dino Caruso & Chad Cicconi
Powers, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming
The Family Graves by Timothy Bach & Brian Atkins
If you like the art:
Against the Wall by Dino Caruso & Shawn Richison
Megatomic Battle Rabbit by Stu Perrins & Israel Huertas
Ella Upgraded by Dan Whitehead & P.R. Dedelis
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Dino Caruso – Writer
Outlander: Lives in Canada
Recently worked on a story for the Local Haunts anthology, which also includes work by many other creators whose work I've covered here
Dream Team: Often works with Shawn Richison
Shawn Richison – Artist & Letterer
Multitalented: You don't often see an artist who also letters comics, but he does just about everything when it comes to comics -- even writing some!
Outlander: Hails from Ontario
Test of Time: Has been working on comics professionally for 15 years
Dijjo – Colorist
Moniker: His real name is Diego Lima, and he sometimes goes by "Dijjo Lima"
Outlander: Is from Brazil
His style is moody, dynamic and untraditional
Juan Romera – Illustrator
Outlander: Hails from Argentina
Was into comics before even learning how to read
Multitalented: Works as a penciller, inker and a colorist
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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