Adventureman #1 Is published by Image Comics, written by Matt Fraction with art by Rachel and Terry Dodson. Adventureman swings into action, along with his trusty comrades, to fight the evil Baron Bizarre! With the city in danger, and time running out, our heroes race against the clock to stop the dastardly evil doer and his cronies… or do they?
To say that Adventureman #1 drops readers into the middle of a story would be an understatement. With an all out attack occurring , complete with Zeppelin air support, the reader is given no context for what is immediately happening. As the scene unfolds, elements of the story come together for the reader to digest. The nature of Adventureman’s power, as well as his comrades are presented through the initial action scene. And it does so filled with all kinds of pulpy glory.
Adventureman #1 wears its inspirations on its sleeve. Crafted after the pulp magazine adventures of years gone by, Fraction captures this aesthetic quiet well. There are a couple moments where the homage felt a little too heavily played out. Whether this was Fraction going overboard, or pulp just isn’t my thing, I can’t really say. But the dialogue got a little eye rolling a time or two.
But what Fraction is often best known for is his amazing character work. His run on Hawkeye is, to many, the stuff of legends. And that focus on characters certainly translates to this story as well. Both for Adventureman, as well as the events after his exploits stop.
As the explosive action that opens Adventureman #1 comes to a screeching halt we discover that we have been experiencing a story, being told by a woman named Clair, to her son Tommy. Throughout the back half of the issue we get to know Clair, along with her son, five sisters and her dad.
While this is a fairly hard turn for Adventureman #1 it is executed brilliantly. With Clair and Tommy attending a big family dinner, we are treated to seeing this large group interacting in some of the most natural feeling writing I’ve read in a while. The casual banter, and little verbal jabs that flow here all reinforce the fact that these people have known each other their entire lives. And to further enhance the character within this book is the excellent approach to lettering when the story is coming from Claire’s point of view.
You see, Clair is hard of hearing. While not completely without her hearing, when she isn’t wearing her hearing aids, people have to shout in order for Claire to hear them. When Claire’s hearing aids are out the text ranges from a fuzzy blur to a legible light gray color. This simple details helps the reader understand what Clair is, or isn’t, picking up. It is one of the best examples of lettering I’ve seen. I would love to praise the letterer here, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere that acknowledges who contributed to this direction of the book.
The last aspect of Adventureman #1 is the artistic presentation. The Dodsons do an excellent job capturing the essence of the story being told. Whether it’s the swashbuckling adventure that starts the book, or the more relaxed middle, every panel lands precisely where its meant to.
So, while I thoroughly enjoyed my read of Adventureman #1, I could see some people having issues with the comic’s somewhat disjointed narrative. What connection, if any, the Adventureman character at the beginning has with the rest of the book remains unclear. If the events that began the story are historical or fictional are not even addressed. And while I’m sure these elements will get fleshed out in later books, there presence here might make this a “wait for the trade” story for those who don’t like being left feeling confused at the end of a book.
As for me personally though, I greatly enjoyed this title. The art, adventure, character and creative representation of a disability all came together to create a unique, deep, and characterful. I look forward to Adventureman‘s subsequent issues so I can learn where all this great work is leading to.
Adventureman #1 is available June 10th wherever comics are sold.
The art, adventure, character and creative representation of a disability all came together to create a unique, deep, and characterful. I look forward to Adventureman‘s subsequent issues so I can learn where all this great work is leading to.