PROJECT: SAVIOUR, ISSUES #1-3
Cartoonist: Craig Johnson
Letterer (issues #2-3): Joey Sheehan
WHAT IS IT?
A very indie superhero comic that blends true-to-life and noir elements.
It's like Hancock or Invincible meets Sin City.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A meta-human vigilante chooses to stand up to a corrupt super-powered individual and the police he has on his payroll.
Even though he’s trying to pry control of the city from Scyther’s villainous grasp, its denizens still think our hero is no hero at all.
The vigilante must find a way to push past his own limits and make all the damage he's caused worth it by defeating Scyther once and for all.
Craig Johnson brings us a new superhero story, untethered to any major publisher and its demands or editorial fiat.
The noir tone lends a flair not often seen in superhero comics. The red-and-grayscale palette works on multiple levels. It immediately sets a gritty and dramatic tone for the book, but it also helps keep Johnson's focus on the other elements of the comic. Being a cartoonist who takes on multiple creative roles on a title is a lot of work and, especially if you're pressed for time or not wholly confident in your own abilities, limiting the input from one of those creative jobs can be a smart idea. The red (and occasional other colors) serves to bring a focus to key elements in the art that readers should pay extra attention to or otherwise serves to add a little style and drama to a scene.
Similarly, you can see Johnson taking other elements he likes from comics he's seen and experimenting with them throughout the series. His desire to bend the medium and try to use it in new and innovative ways matches his protagonist's own struggles as he tries to push his powers to become the hero the world needs.
Johnson knows his superhero genre. As you read Project: Saviour, it feels very "Batman: Year One." But it's not your typical origin story; it jumps around in the timeline of events, keeping things fresh in a way other origin stories often don't.
The self-conscious characteristic of the superhero is always a pleasure to explore and carries with it the authenticity inherent in the story of an ordinary person who suddenly becomes extraordinary.
Joey Sheehan definitely helps step-up the lettering for this title in issues #2 and beyond. Spacing is tighter, fonts and effects and drop-shadows help lend personality to the balloons and captions. There are more sound effects more often, a virtual must-have for action-packed comics. He also knows how to use space well for areas heavier with copy. It really helps take Project: Saviour to the next level.
Love the Blue Eyed Devils comic shop representation!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
It's unpolished. There are words in there twice, right next to each other, typos, characters' names spelled wrong, the incorrect use of words, punctuation inconsistencies, lettering issues (later helped by Sheehan), and more. An editor could have helped smooth a lot of these out.
The art, too, can feel unpolished and lack a cohesive style. A majority of the comic looks hand-drawn, but some elements look like imported photography or have a cartoonish "ClipArt"-ness, like the ambulance in the image below, and that disconnect can be jarring for some readers. (NOTE: Johnson states that he's gone back and edited these out and replaced them with original art that matches the style of the rest of the comic.) Depth perspective issues could be helped with some inking changes, digital effects, or just simplified backgrounds at times.
The desire for the melodramatic noir tone seems to clash against the hyper-realistic, laid-back main character and his relationships with others, including the audience he narrates to. This is perhaps best exemplified in character dialogue, which can feel stilted and very dramatic at times, then oscillate to fun and light-hearted. The latter feels a little out of place against the noir red-and-grayscale palette.
Cursing & violence make it not the best read for kids.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
While Project: Saviour doesn't necessarily do anything terribly new for the genre (at least, not yet), it does feel like it's made with a lot of love and appreciation for superhero comics. In fact, the comic drips with it, and you can see that admiration in every issue.
No one's here to claim Project: Saviour is the perfect comic or that it stands up to Big Indie titles. But there's something to the heart that Craig Johnson puts into it that's undeniable. It's cool seeing a passion project like this come to life in that rough, grassroots indie comics way!
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Craig Johnson’s characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Craig Johnson’s or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED