Review: Altered Reality Origins: The L.A.R.C.

The latest offering from Altered Reality Comics is a fun jam of an issue featuring the introduction of a new major player in the Altered Reality Universe.  The L.A.R.C. (Lead Assault Reconnaissance Commando.

Beginning with Rhode Warrior #1 at Rhode Island Comic-con in 2016 and continuing with Altered Reality Showcase #1 at Comic-Conn in 2017, Origins #1 is the 3rd offering from the Colorado Springs Comic Con of a fledgling publishing company intent on building a universe.

The L.A.R.C. brings a sense of history to Altered Reality. His story is broken up into four parts, all featuring different ages in the characters history, and told using different artists that bring a different style to each chapter that really evokes a feeling of nostalgia and thoughtfulness to L.A.R.C.’s origin story.

The first chapter, The Golden Age, with art by Pat Broderick, introduces us to the Sergeant. Set in the waning days of World War 2, the Sergeant leads his platoon, the L.A.R.C.’s into Kyaz castle to capture The Commander and Ms. Marauder, enemy combatants for what we assume is Nazi Germany.  Chaos ensues as a dimensional rift is opened by an evil scientist and a costumed hero by the name of Captain Coast shows up to thwart the plan and prevent whatever was coming through the portal from stepping foot on Earth.  Witnessing such unchecked power, the Sergeant promises to become a costumed hero as well, but the kind of hero that can keep an eye on those heroes that have seemingly limitless powers with the aim of learning their weaknesses in case they ever need to be stopped.  The L.A.R.C. is born!

Pat Broderick’s art here is perfect for this chapter.  Broderick, best known for his work on such DC titles as Firestorm and Green Lantern brings a sense of suspense in action to the fight scene between the soldiers and the first reveal of Captain Coast makes us believe he’s larger than life.

Chapter two, The Silver Age features Ian Nichols on pencils and inks.  This story features on an aging L.A.R.C. training his replacement 25 years after the first story.  The return of a villain seen in previous Altered Reality releases makes you realize you have to start looking big picture for what Nichols’ plan is for the main story-line.  There’s a fight-scene here particularly well done that brought back memories of early Bendis-Oeming issues of Powers. The hook here is does Kid L.A.R.C have what it takes to replace his mentor?  The story took an original turn here that wasn’t what I was expecting.  I like Nichols’ character design of his main villain Big Horn.  All this guy needs is a cool action figure.

Chapter Three, The Dark Age is when this story really takes off.  We have the big show-down between L.A.R.C. and Big Horn.  The story is one big sweeping action scene with heavy-hitting art by Joe St. Pierre.  It is here we realize what the cost of being a hero means in L.A.R.C’s world and gives him a new status quo to set up the final chapter.

Chapter Four, with art by Chris Campana shows us the modern day L.A.R.C. as he attempts to foil an art theft.  We see the debut of a modern day Ms. Marauder and a surprise guest star on the last page that leaves you wanting the next part of Altered Reality’s universe building story.

Ian Nichols is the writer for this story and the two previous issues.  This is Ian’s strongest effort to date and it’s great watching him grow as a writer with each successive story.  It’s easy to draw parallels in this book to Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman at times but I like the twists Ian takes. If there is any criticism I can address it’s that it could use a bit more editing, as there were a few misspelled words and misplaced dialogue boxes that made it hard to follow the narrative at times.

Overall I think this is a fun read.  It’s a book that establishes a sense of history to the Altered Reality universe and begins to give it a cohesive direction.  Introducing new heroes in each installment while having a central villain driving the plot forward is a great idea and I can’t wait to see the next issue debuting at 2017’s Rhode Island Comiccon.

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