Not resting on its laurels, AfterShock Comics continues to edge into the independent market place with another new series. This one is kind of Shazam (Captain Marvel) in reverse story.
Chris Vargas is 45 going on older. He has had a bit of a year, losing his Mom, moving in with his Dad, there is an arrest, dental work, Elizabeth and the paper is going on down the tube. Hanging out with his best buds on his birthday just doesn’t seem enough, till a chance encounter from the 80’s gives us the first Shazam moment. From there, it’s nebulous threats from his boss, a serpentine man and a possible Jack Kirby machine.
Mark Waid is a comic veteran having written across the aisle and recently moving into creator-ship. Here he is joined by co-creator and co-writer Tom Peyer. Between them, the pair craft an almost anti-Billy Batson with an ageing man in place of a kid and cynicism replacing hope. The first issue serves the reader with a lot of assumptions and a list of characters, some of which will be thrown away and others may serve a larger purpose. In this issue, it seems that Chris’ alter-ego is becoming a bit of a regular around town, trying to do the right thing, even if he is unaware of how he got his powers or even how powerful he is. A chance meeting in a bar sets him up on a trail of clues and into team up territory.
Wilfredo Torres has been around the block on a number of different books, including The Shadow and possibly more relevantly Jupiter’s Circle which also deals with legacy characters and their interaction in a possibly not easily recognizable superhero universe. Admittedly, Jupiter’s Circle is written by deconstruction king Mark Millar, but in this genre, Waid certainly has the knowledge of the various worlds of superheroes. Torres art here has a simple feel to that give the book an old school feel, which is matched by the washed out colors from the fantastic Kelly Fitzpatrick.
Books that throw a curveball into recognisable formats have been a bit of a mainstay in comics since Kick-Ass. As such, they run the risk of becoming as part of the community as the books they are trying to either emulate of take apart, before putting the pieces back together to make a new whole.
Writing – 3 Stars
Art – 3 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars
(W) Mark Waid, Tom Peyer (A/CA) Wilfredo Torres