***TRIGGER WARNING: SCENES OF LYNCHINGS AND OTHER VIOLENCE AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR***
Writer: Ed Williams Art: Miguel Angel Ruiz & Tim Wasney Publisher: Arclight Comics
WHAT IS IT?
An introductory issue into a new superhero universe more culturally diverse than the Big 2. It introduces some of the characters and sets up the story and concept throughout that reality's history.
It reminded me of the powerful myth aspect of American Gods mixed with the idea of cosmic/elemental power of old school anime, like Ronin Warriors, maybe. Hard to put my finger on it exactly, but that's the first one to come to mind.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This first issue acts as an introduction to the greater world of Arclight Comics, a sort of cornerstone or foundation the publisher plans to build on for all future stories, all branching out from this one event.
This story starts in America in 1861, when a strange meteor breaks apart in our atmosphere, granting extraordinary powers to extraordinary individuals, both good and evil.
We fast-forward through time to the present, seeing the beginnings of these powers manifest in their hosts or be passed from one to another by way of the meteorite shards.
The issue ends where the main titles of Arclight Comics will pick up, so this is like Ground Zero for an entire universe to be built.
Minority representation is fantastic in this, something very important to the diverse creators of this comic and the stakeholders at the publisher
None of the representation feels exploitative, token or racist the way that it often can in mainstream media
For a creative team who doesn't come from the comics industry, it's really incredible what these guys put together
Ed Williams is a marketing powerhouse and a phenom when it comes to identifying talent in individuals and harnessing their creative and technical abilities
Detailed art and vibrant color go far above the level often seen in indie comics
Solid lettering & sound effect work
It seems like the heroes may all be big names from American history, but with superpowers, which is a really cool twist
There's a lot of thought outside of this comic put behind how the world and its characters work
For example, characters are meant to grow and change, starting families or aging out of the hero game altogether, the way Claremont had originally intended for the X-Men
Many stories are already planned around this first issue
There's such a solid foundation in this issue and with the publisher in general for the world to be built
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The intro talks about "deciding where we stand" -- I don't see a lot of sides to choose from in this issue, but I figure that'll come later
Heavy narrative is used to do a lot of story set-up in a short time, which might not be as compelling as diving into each of these stories more (again, something Arclight may do in the future)
The comic opens with a lynching scene and has other timely and topical crimes against people of color, which may be a lot for some readers (but also addresses a lot of racial issues head-on and immediately tells readers what they can expect in future Arclight comics)
I think the context of what this comic is supposed to be in relation to the Arclight Universe may get lost on readers who don't visit the website to learn more
Again, this point is a little moot once Arclight releases future titles, but currently, there's one issue with A LOT of plot set-up, little character building, and nowhere within canon for readers to explore
It's unfortunate that Lion Forge also launched their superhero universe, Catalyst Prime, at about the same time, further saturating the superhero market, though Arclight's is currently the only one primarily focused on promoting people of color as heroes and role models in their universe
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
The world needs more superheroes of color, and Williams & Co., under the Arclight Comics banner, have created a rich and vibrant universe for myriad stories to sprout from. But for it to grow, it needs the attention of readers like you. So check it out!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Black Panther & The Crew by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Butch Guice & Scott Hanna
X-Men: Season One by Dennis Hopeless & Jamie McKelvie
Catalyst Prime by Illidge, Priest, Rosado & Turini
If you like the art:
The Family Graves by Timothy Bach & Brian Atkins
KNIGHT: The Wandering Stars, Issue #0 by The Starlight City Project & Skill3 Studio
Wayward, Vol. 1 by Jim Zub & Steve Cummings
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ed Williams – Writer, Letterer & Chief Creative Officer at Arclight Comics
Built the Arclight Comics brand and creative world 7 years ago to help spotlight underrepresented characters and creators in comics
New Face: His background isn't in comics -- it's in brand design and strategy
Miguel Angel Ruiz – Artist
Outlander: Hails from Cordoba, Spain
Helps support kids in his city who want to become illustrators and cartoonists
Tim Wasney – Colorist/Sr. Art Director
Multitalented: His work in the shipping department at Home Depot helps inform how Arclight ships their comics in pristine condition
New Face: This is his first full-length comic!
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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