Staff: John Pross, Derek Adnams, Julius Abrera, Bryan Maganaye, and Brandon Bullock
Solid story, awesome artwork.
So today’s main dish is Average Jo by Hound Comics. It’s got a slick cover and an “adult” warning on it so what could possibly bad about it? Well, let’s find out!
I mentioned this a while back in my Spectrum review; if a comic’s description starts off by telling us the race of our protagonist- it seems to absorb a lot of the focus on the comic. Average Jo starts off by saying, “Meet Jo Hamilton. Jo is a Filipino-American police officer in the city of Eden…” To be honest- unless this comic is going to be deeply entrenched in the cultural plight of Filipino-Americans, leave that out of it. (I am waiting for the day a non-Neo Nazi comic starts off saying, “Bob Smith is a Caucasian-American police officer in New York City.”) This is a tiny little pet peeve of mine that I’ve spent enough time of this review of a solid comic on so…
Let me jump into the art section of the review by saying, “DAMMMN”. Now reclaim a bit of my professionalism (*cough cough*) I’ll explain why I think this is one of the most gorgeously drawn comics I’ve recently seen. It blends realism and traditional american comic art conventions perfectly. Angels are used well, anatomy is consistent and realistic, the outfits are imaginative (kind of gives me a bit of the “New 52” vibe- in a good way), and they don’t skip on the background. I can’t overstate how important that is, a lot of good comics have stunningly bad backgrounds (I’m looking at you Marvel and DC).
The dialogue is smartly written and have a very professional ring to it. A lot of indie comics have this tendency to overload us with exposition right off the bat and we’re smothered in dry lines by page 3 or 4. I got a LITTLE background (in snippets) during the first two pages. It didn’t require a block of text- I got it through dialogue and demonstration. I like that we get to see a lot of our protagonist’s home life and get to really empathize with him as a person.
At first I didn’t even notice the lettering, which to me makes me squee with joy. Lettering SHOULD be easy to read and not the main focus of the story. They do a bang up job of some very professional lettering and it pays off in a unicycle flowing comic.
One thing I’ll say detracts from this comic a bit of the subject matter. We have “supers” running around cities and a legal act that protects them and… yadda yadda yadda. Sorry to say but this is a really tired concept. We get it from the perspective of a mundane cop which is kind of unique but it feels like 1/2 the other indie comics in the superhero genre I’ve read. Off the top of my head, just the ones I’ve personally reviewed, I can think of: iHero, The Misadventures of Electrolyte and The Justice Purveyors, True North (somewhat), and Division M. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Division M (though much better written and executed) with that entry level cop vs superhuman sort of thing going on. It’s not to say this is a bad comic, it is just a song that has been played one too many times on the radio.
Overall this is solid comic. One of the most well rounded endeavors I’ve come across recently. It has a very human element in what could easily have descended into mediocrity. With a deft hand its crafted and bolstered by some solid artwork. Give it a read!