Indie Comics Spotlight: Son of Merlin, No More Heroes, Shadowman
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Son of Merlin #1
Merlin is a truly powerful wizard, assisting King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He also made his fair share of enemies, the most of powerful being Morgan La Fey. The two are destined to clash for eternity and it’s their rivalry that forms the basis for Son of Merlin #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Robert Place Napton, with art by Zid and letters by Troy Peteri.
Merlin is in a bad way, seeking to keep his all-powerful diary from the hands of Morgan. As both are extremely powerful wizards, they’ve both gotten different ideas as to what magic should be used for. Merlin is on the good side, while Morgan is on the bad side. Merlin has a son though and his shock at learning of his lineage is what makes the issue tick.
Napton’s concept is actually quite ingenious. Merlin has a history, but offering up an unknowing son really makes things even more interesting. Simon Nubo is skeptical of the news and plays it very aloof. His power is untapped to this point and it’s definite that he has some, considering he’s the son of Merlin. The curious part of the story is the diary and why everyone seems to be all about it. Morgan’s reasoning for getting it aren’t completely clear in the first issue. It’s implied that she wants it for the power that it will grant her. Whether or not Simon can use it remains to be seen. The story feels much like Aspen’s Charismagic, where a Las Vegas magician learns that he knows actual magic. The concept of learning about powers and past certainly isn’t new, but making it about Merlin adds a mystique to it.
Zid’s art is very photorealistic. It’s almost as if photos were taken of all the panels and then touched up with colors. There’s a chalky presence on all the pages, really making the art strong and unique. It doesn’t overpower the tale and manages to keep the reader focused on all the magic flying around.
Son of Merlin #1 is a rather innovative concept. The writing moves very quickly and the art is awesome, combining to make an adventurous and creative start to the series. Watching Simon uncover his past and future will make the series worth reading and anytime Morgan La Fey is involved, you know things will be crazy.
Son of Merlin #1 is in stores now.
No More Heroes #4
It’s all come to this. A whodunit with a superhero’s suicide at the center of it, prompting a frenetic sidekick to find out what really happened. The suspect is in custody and it looks like answers will be given. The answers might not be what’s expected, though, in No More Heroes #4. The issue is written by Gordon McLean, illustrated by Caio Oliveira and letters Kel Nuttal.
Sid and Black Fury have captured Jack Slaughter, the heartless villain seen as the prime reason for the death of Dark Justice. Who they find behind the mask is something of a surprise, as is the turn of events that ended with Dark Justice in a pool of blood on the floor and a bullet to his head.
McLean has been building up to this finale for a while and it’s actually pretty satisfying. The series opened with the mammoth hook of a superhero killing himself as the result of a random response to a text message asking if he should. There’s a swerve both in the issue and at the end, both of which really cement the story arc as something so much more than a depressed superhero. There’s symmetry throughout, right down to the first few pages showing past/present actions at the same location. Dark Justice is a hero who is torn by his desire to uphold the law while as reconciled with his need for justice. It’s a heady combination that plagues even the greatest of heroes and works really well as a plot device for the series. The motivation even makes sense when it comes to Jack Slaughter’s involvement, as the deviant decides to play on Dark Justice’s sense of morality for a sick enjoyment.
The art by Oliveira is all black and white, but feels very much like a superhero tale. The aforementioned panels showing the different points in time is really well done, giving the reader a sense of both now and then. There are a few really emotional full-page panels that have a good mix of raw nerve and levity.
No More Heroes #4 concludes the series with a satisfying conclusion. It leaves things open for a possible sequel for some of the characters, although it’s a good bet that the next arc won’t end with a superhero suicide. Black Fury shows why he was a sidekick to Dark Fury for so long, exhibiting some of the same dilemmas as his mentor. Overall, the characters play their parts well in the conclusion of a rather interesting four-issue mini-series.
No More Heroes #4 is available now.
All hell breaking loose is typically bandied about as a loose threat against humanity. Often, some demon will mention it as part of his/her monologue prior to things really going sour. In the case of Shadowman #4 though, the threat is real and turns out to actually happen. The issue is written by Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher, with art by Zircher, colors by Brian Reber and letters by Rob Steen.
Jack Boniface is rapidly coming to terms with his newfound abilities, using them to help Alyssa out of a tight spot. Meanwhile, Dox is in a tight spot of his own, sharing some face-to-face time with Mr. Twist, who’s hellbent on assisting his master Darque’s return to the Earth. Mix it all together and you’ve got a good recipe for mayhem, evil and portal jumping. Can never go wrong with portal jumping.
The fourth issue of the series seems to conclude the first story arc. Darque is in an interesting position (sparring verbally with Jaunty), while Jack has gotten a better handle on his abilities as Shadowman. There’s the introduction of an Illuminati of sorts as well, who will likely play a big part in future issues. The issue moves along at a very comfortable pace, with a healthy blend of action and exposition. Jordan and Zircher make sure they don’t knock you over the head with the obvious. Instead, they let the story unfold around the characters, which makes for very good reading. Twist is just as sinister as ever and that’s gotten across both via his actions and other characters speaking in fear of him. The characters all play their part and play them well.
Zircher’s art is wonderful. He makes Twist look, well, twisted and the scenes with Shadowman surrounded by ghosts are very well done. The art has a very corporeal feel to it, which seems counter-intuitive in a book about ghosts, but it works really well. All the scenes really capture their moment as a snapshot in time and all could easily be standalone posters; they just look that good.
Shadowman #4 moves really quickly and at the end you wonder what just happened. It hits you like a freight train, but leaves you wanting more. There are plenty of plot threads made available for the series to continue and it will likely do so with as much fun as the fourth issue.
Shadowman #4 is in stores now.