REVIEW: Route 3 #1

Writer: Robert Jeffrey II
Penciller and Inker: Sean Damien Hill
Colorist: Ann Siri
Letterer:  Khari J. Sampson
Editor:  John McGuire
Publisher: Terminus Media

Synopsis:

While Route 3 as a whole promises to be a tale of the War on Terror, superheroes and destiny, Issue #1 is primarily a prologue to that story and an introduction to the protagonist: Atlanta, Georgia teen Sean Anderson.  Plagued by dreams and haunted by the loss of his mother, Sean is presented as a moody and emotionally distant teen.  Issue #1 hints at his larger potential and destiny, but ends before any of this begins to come to pass.

What I Liked:

Based on the author’s description of the overarching plot, Route 3 looks like it will be a promising story.  Using elements of the real world War on Terror, building off that climate of fear and throwing in a mix of superheroes with a predominantly non-WASP cast?  Sounds like it could be a real winner.

From what we’ve read so far, Jeffrey has a decent handle on writing characters with real motivations and emotions.  Sean is written as a classic angsty teenager, distant from his father and older brother but opening up to his friends.  The soldiers in the beginning of the issue talk and sound like a real group of soldiers.  Even some of the bad guys are motivated by economics and survival rather than malice or overt greed.

Route3-1

The use of the “Yessir” panel showing them speaking in unison is visually brilliant.

The art is clean, with good detail, shading and colors.  It conveys the action and emotions of the characters well.  It isn’t the most unique style, but it does its job and moves the story forward, and the artistic team is to be commended for that.

What I Didn’t:

Route 3 shows a lot of promise, but Issue #1 doesn’t really deliver on that promise yet.  It really is mostly an extended prologue introducing us to the protagonist, with just a hint of larger plot, event and action occasionally occurring.  The most interesting part of the issue is in the first 7 pages, introducing us to characters, plots, super powers and etc. But then you learn that all that happens 6 months from “now”, and we start following a moody teenager as he goes to school for the rest of the issue.  While those first 7 pages were very intriguing and insightful into the world, the rest of the issue pales in comparison.

Building off of this, the biggest weakness of Issue #1, in my opinion, is that what happens in the issue itself doesn’t match up to the description/summary provided by the author/producer.

For example, from the Amazon.com Product Description:

Sean Anderson’s greatest concern right now is surviving 10th grade. He has no idea that a series of events which began on a Virginia plantation in 1690, will lead him to gain the absolute power to set a fractured world on the right course.

That is, if he can survive 1st period.

This is a better description of what I imagine will be the whole of Route 3’s story, rather than what occurs in Issue #1.

And from the summary in the front of the issue and on the Terminus Media website:

Sean Anderson […] just wants to survive 10th grade, which has become a daily existence of being ignored by most and treated like dirt by a remaining few.

Contrary to this, in the issue we actually see Sean surrounded by people who care about him: his family, his close friend, a cute and popular girl.  Yes there is mention made that he and his friend are nerds (they like videogames, gasp!) and semi-social outcasts, but the closest we get to being shown this is when Sean bumps into a big scary dude (clad in all black, with secret agent sunglasses and wearing a leather trenchcoat) outside of his school and falls over.  And instead of everyone wigging out from the creepy dude knocking over a classmate, they laugh at Sean for falling over?  I felt like the author was trying to force the idea of “the social misfit” high-school student on me.

Route3-2

See, even if I thought Sean was a loner nerd, I’d still be worried about the secret agent looking dude who knocked him over.

That’s the biggest problem for me with this issue.  It overstates and slightly misrepresents its contents, both visually with the cover and via the text summaries/descriptions available online.

Another minor critique worth mentioning is the difficulty in finding the credits to the creators of the comic.  On the Terminus website none of their names are listed, and only the writer and inker are listed on Amazon.  Turns out they were all listed on the very last page of the issue.  I feel that it is important to give the creators credit for their work by including them on the cover, or at least on the intro page.

Summary:

Route 3 looks like it will shape up to be an interesting series, but I was less than impressed by Issue #1.   The art is competent and the writing is decent, but the whole issue was a slow start to the series, spending more time establishing the protagonist’s character than I felt was necessary.  Especially since the summary and descriptions of Issue #1 had me more excited for story elements that are not likely to show up any time soon.

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