THE WRONG EARTH: FAME & FORTUNE, ONE-SHOT
Writer: Mark Russell
Illustrator: Michael Montenat
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Fame & Fortune #1 shines a light on the famous multiverse billionaire men behind the Dragonfly-themed superhero costumes in the comedic superhero one-shot expanding The Wrong Earth universe.
Take the Adam West Batman universe and compare it to the power-hungry, rich Biff Tannin timeline in Back to the Future II, and you're looking at a similar duality as this comic issue.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The second one-shot set in The Wrong Earth AHOY comic multiverse, this issue focuses not on titular heroes Dragonflyman and Dragonfly, but on the billionaire who dons the superhero attire. On both the eerily sunny Earth-Alpha and the gritty Earth-Omega alternate worlds, ultra-rich investor Richard Fame proposes building a new football stadium to financially benefit their versions of Fortune City. The mayors in both dimensions agree to offer up 90% of the money while Fame funds only 10%, profits off the name, as well controlling the spending and revenue decisions.
The Fame on Earth-Alpha can positively spin any unfortunate scenario into an optimistic opportunity. However, he faces the same financial predicaments and time constraints as his doppelganger on Earth-Omega.
Will Earth-Alpha Richard Fame also resort to brutality and violence to speed the stadium construction along? In a comic where good vs. evil seems as clear as night and day, can readers trust either iteration of the cheapskate billionaire?
Despite writing a commentary about corrupt billionaires previously with the remarkable Billionaire Island comic series, Mark Russell takes a fresh satirical approach to the subject in Fame & Fortune that does not feel derivative of his prior works. I would know since I've read nearly every comic Russell's written.
Illustrator Michael Montenat flawlessly leans into delineating the dualties between both versions of Earth with visual cues.
Shadows are intensified in the dark Earth-Omega, lines are bolder, and the stylistic choices clearly define each dimension.
Andy Troy has worked as the colorist on all The Wrong Earth issues from the beginning. Troy's ability to render dissonant, juxtaposing color schemes to thematically identify the alternate universes appears like it's become second nature to Troy at this point.
This is a text-heavy comic where two plots are occurring not only simultaneously, but side by side on each page. Rob Steen's lettering is crisp and tight, with his speech bubble tails always navigating the reader around the page packed with gutters, words, and art.
Fame & Fortune #1 executes precision in its art and design elements. The layouts on every page vary in unique ways to visually offset the similar dual plotlines. Gutters are various widths, panel borders disappear completely sometimes, and no two pages look the same.
Another praise goes out to Rob Steen's masterful lettering skill. Steen's italicized, white, tightly kerned text looks visible and intelligible, even inside dark purple and green text boxes.
Choosing not to focus on the superhero side of these characters in an arguably "superhero genre" comic is a risky move, but administered with intrigue and skill during this political character study comic issue.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Violence and brutality occur in the comic on Dragonflyman's Earth-Omega side of the story. Readers should also be aware of mild sexual content.
With any Mark Russell story, the tongue-in-cheek satire doesn't stray far from the sad truths within (American) politics/the social milieu. The harsh reality in this issue about (SPOILERS) the control employers have over immigrant workers and how they get away with underpaying them may distress or hit too close to home for some readers.
This issue reads fairly well as a standalone story but will hold more substantive weight for readers already familiar with The Wrong Earth comic series.
Further, readers who are fans of The Wrong Earth canon will need to separate each one-shot in their minds as existing in its own universe/timeline apart from one another.
The additional "Buddy System" short in the back of the issue is wonderful, but once again, will resonate more with familiar readers. I also felt it didn't necessarily add or fit in with the primary Fame & Fortune story (but I enjoyed it, nonetheless!).
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
You should definitely spend your hard-earned money on this comic issue about billionaires who exploit people for money!
In all seriousness, The Wrong Earth: Fame & Fortune #1 features the timely problem of the working class wage gap and how the corrupt rich profit from exploitation. These wealthy benefit often by publically spinning a narrative in their favor. This thematic irony will not be lost by the time you reach the end of the comic and realize how the narrative was spun from the first panel.
The shock value in how Mark Russell's initially clear-cut moral boundaries gradually disintegrate throughout the comic is a brilliant way to expose the gray areas in virtue when money and greed are involved. Aside from the immersive plot, this comic should win an award for design.
The structured narrative, artistry, text placement, and dual imagery makes Fame & Fortune #1 one of the best entries in The Wrong Earth saga thus far.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Wrong Earth by Tom Peyer & Jamal Igle
Billionaire Island by Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
Prez by Mark Russell, Ben Caldwell, & Mark Morales
If you like the art:
Happy Hour by Peter Milligan & Michael Montenat
Not All Robots by Mark Russell & Mike Deodato Jr.
The Wrong Earth: Night & Day by Tom Peyer & Jamal Igle
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Mark Russell – Writer (@Manruss)
Mark is the author of God Is Disappointed in You and a comic book writer who has worked for publishers like Marvel, DC, and AHOY Comics.
His comic titles include The Flintstones, Second Coming, Billionaire Island, and Fantastic Four: Life Story.
Award Winner: Russell won the 2019 GLADD Award for Outstanding Comic for his work on Exit Stage Left!: The Snagglepuss Chronicles.
Michael Montenat – Illustrator (@mikemontenat)
A freelance illustrator who has provided art for comic companies such as BOOM! Studios with Hellraiser Annual #1 and IDW Publishing with Tales from the Cobra Wars.
He illustrated The Last Sacrifice with fellow AHOY Comics member Stuart Moore.
He graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
Andy Troy – Colorist
Prolific: Andy Troy has worked as colorist for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Extreme Studios, and other publishers.
Troy has lent his talents to coloring characters as Spawn, Batman, Captain America and Iron Fist.
He lives and works in Hunsville, AL, where he used to play in the metal band Diamond White.
Rob Steen – Letterer (@RobSteen4)
Rob is the resident letterer at AHOY Comics. You can’t pick up an AHOY issue without finding his name!
Prolific: He has lettered for all major comic book companies like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, to name a few.
Award Winner: Rob illustrated a children’s book series called Flanimals, written by Ricky Gervais. They won the Galaxy British Book Award in 2007 for Children’s Book of the Year.
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