REVIEW: Indestructible: Stingray #1

WRITER: Jeff Marsick
ARTIST: Luca Reguzzoni
COVER ARTIST: Jeff Langevin
LETTERER: Troy Peteri
COLORIST: Zac Atkinson
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
RELEASE DATE: 05/27/2015

There’s something about team books that appeal to me.

Maybe it’s the banter between multiple personalities forced to deal with each other. Maybe it’s the great combinations of teamwork that can achieve a goal. Or, then again maybe it’s just that they’re so much fun when done right.

I’m reminded of this after reading Darby Pop’s latest superhero venture, Indestructible: Stingray #1. A one-shot devoted to exemplifying a character seen in Jeff Kline’s Indestructible series, this comic provides us with a fun look at Stingray’s first few days working with the League of Defenders.

Jeff Marsick won a competition that Darby Pop hosted with this comic, and it’s no surprise why. With great pacing and slick dialogue, each page-turn creates new surprises and fun twists. The characters all have their own voices, and in the case of some, provide constant enjoyment. Plus, I’ve never read any issues of Indestructible, but after just 22 pages I have a great understanding of who this team is, what they stand for, and how they operate, which is always challenging but rewarding. And with a standard-sized comic such as this one, the lack of ‘boring’ or ‘filler’ panels is quite refreshing, as often certain comics cut corners in that regard. Oh, and certain characters like Gaia and The Mighty do great at intriguing readers like me to read more.

In art, Luca Reguzzoni dazzles with clear pencils and inks that never detract from the overall book. Keeping the characters slick and mystical when necessary, but then being able to switch to sexy and suspenseful on a whim is a valuable skill to have in today’s comic book industry, and Reguzzoni really doesn’t hold back here. There is no moment where I feel like the characters are hypersexualized, but with the few changes in tone the art provides, I do feel like I’m reading more than some preteen’s superhero story they picked up at the local library on Tuesday night. In colors, Zac Aktinson arguably is the star of this comic, with a style that keeps the book grounded, yet dazzling, and gorgeous, yet youthful. Enhancing Reguzzoni’s already-astounding pencils/inks, Atkinson gives the story multiple dimensions and makes the reading not only easy on the eyes, but quite appealing. In that regard, Troy Peteri’s lettering also deserves praise, as he keeps the story flowing, easy to follow, and (arguably most importantly) doesn’t cloud the page with speech bubbles.

Of course, there are some negative aspects of this book. Reguzzoni can fall flat on certain faces, and it seems the farther away a character is, the less effort went into keeping them looking good. If the art wasn’t so good, these things would be hardly noticeable, but when something is just not up to par, it sticks out like a sore thumb. In addition to occassionally stocky faces, it seems that certain anatomical aspects are off, mostly in the build of some characters. But hey, it is a superhero comic, and those aren’t always known for their anatomical perfection (see: the 90s). I have already expressed my enjoyment of the interior art, but I must admit that the cover seems a bit deceiving. While both variants provided give a great look into the style of the comic, the actual cover (done by Jeff Langevin) seems a bit odd for the comic I read afterwards. It gives off an air of mysterious and mature darkness, one that is not matched at all by Reguzzoni’s interiors.

Going further on the negatives, I must admit that the story did fall into some tropes at times. The immature superhero teenage boy (played by Bender) was a bit cliche, as was Iron Giant’s entire characterization (as of this issue). Some jokes fell flat, but it was more the base characters that felt off at times. One example is Princess Power, written in the entirety of the comic as a powerful, demanding, and comandeering leader (and one that does not like Kelly, aka Stingray) instantly going to hugs and embraces with Stingray towards the end, while apparently skipping the “neutral” aspect of their relationship. It seems rushed and odd, which I know from the rest of the issue is not Marsick’s general style; furthering on that, the lack of any real depth was a bit disappointing, because other than a surprising few last pages, the characters were basically confined to their original portrayals, which hopefully is a resolved issue in the actual Indestructible series.

All in all, Indestructible: Stingray #1 doesn’t shoot for heavy, thematic portrayals of characters, nor does it keep every aspect completely satisfying, but it provides a fun, banter-heavy team book that definitely gets the reader interested in the main series (which, if I’m correct, ended its second volume in December 2014). The art is overall pretty good, and the colors/letters top, which creates for a fun book that is definitely worth a pickup.

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