REVIEW: ‘Stealth,’ Issue #1 (of 6)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stealth #1

Stealth #1, written by Mike Costa, illustrated by Nate Bellegrade, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Sal Cipriano, is published by Image Comics underneath their Skybound banner and based on an original concept by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri. For years the superhero known as Stealth has protected the streets of Detroit. Reporter Tony Barber struggles to make a living while also caring for his father, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. These two worlds are about to collide in the most unlikely of ways…

Every superhero tale needs a good hook, and the Stealth creative team delivers it in the form of a superhero who doesn’t know he’s a superhero. They also aren’t afraid to tackle heavy issues such as mental illness and gentrification; both of which weave through the life of Tony and his father. The first five pages showcase various aspects of Detroit, from the run-down neighborhoods to city buildings wrapped in the twilight, all of it punctuated by snippets from an article Tony is writing. If it weren’t for the cover, you’d be fooled into thinking you were reading a New York Times article in illustrated form; again, this helps lend weight to the more outlandish genre elements.

Costa is no stranger to genre fare, having written Transformers for IDW, Venom for Marvel and episodes of Lucifer, which was based on a Vertigo Comics series. Here, he keeps the superheroic aspect of the book relatively light, grounding it in human emotion. As someone who’s had a relative with Alzheimer’s, I could identify with Tony’s worry about his father and juggling multiple responsibilities. Tony is also a journalist, which is a profession I share; I too felt his struggle with getting the right words on the page.

Stealth #1

Perhaps the biggest element that adds to the human factor is the fact that the protagonists are African American. In the original Stealth one-shot by Kirkman, Silvestri, and Sheldon Mitchell,  Stealth (who was named James Carey) was white; although many of the elements from that one shot remain, changing the characters’ race helps the human element resonate more with the audience. Readers will definitely buy more into Tony’s struggle and empathize with him because it feels authentic.

Also bringing a human element to the table is Bellegarde. His art is extremely expressive; you see the weight of age on Mr. Barber’s face, the weariness and worry on Tony’s, and shock on two teenagers’ faces when Stealth apprehends a robber. He also draws two double-page spreads that showcase Stealth soaring over Detroit City, an awe-inspiring sight. Bonvillain again uses the same striking colors that she brought to Once and Future, filling Stealth’s nighttime exploits with blues and violets. The resulting image feels like it’s actually taking place at night.

Stealth #1 is a stellar new entry into the world of superheroes, grounding its genre trappings with a moving story and striking artwork. With a feature film in development by Lee Daniels, it looks like Stealth may join other heroes in having a presence outside the printed page.

Stealth #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

Stealth #1
5

TL;DR

Stealth #1 is a stellar new entry into the world of superheroes, grounding its genre trappings with a moving story and striking artwork. With a feature film in development by Lee Daniels, it looks like Stealth may join other heroes in having a presence outside the printed page.