By Patrick Wolf
Have you ever seen one of those cheap, Chinese knockoffs? What’s interesting about these products is how they’re so similar and yet so different from the real thing. We can almost always identify a counterfeit Spiderman toy, and yet we can’t help but marvel at how similar it is to the genuine article. I think part of the reason for this phenomenon is that the Chinese knockoff isn’t a straightforward copy: it’s just so generic it feels like a duplicate. Jim Hachey’s Supernatural Agents #1 has a similar feel. While it’s not a direct rip-off, the artwork, story, and characters are so imitative; you’ll get that same feeling you experience whenever you see a counterfeit: it looks like the real thing, but it’s just too generic to be it.
Supernatural Agents takes place in Saint John, Canada and features a team of Avenger-like superheroes who fight for justice. Unfortunately, all hell breaks loose when the team finds out the government’s going to cut their funding. Now, not only is their livelihood at stake, but also a new threat has emerged outside of the city. Will the Supernatural Agents be able to save the day before they cash their last check?
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. In the case of Supernatural Agents, it may just turn into a lawsuit. The story and characters are such blatant imitations of various Marvel, Image, and DC icons that I’m genuinely surprised the creative team hasn’t been hit with a cease-and-desist order. To give an example, take a look at the cover art to the right. See anything familiar? Does the guy in the glasses look a little like Marvel’s Cyclops? Does the green guy resemble DC’s Martian Manhunter? What about the reptilian guy? Kind of remind you of Image’s Savage Dragon? In fact, the characters in this series are all such shameless knockoffs, you’ll actually have a lot of fun flipping through the pages and guessing who’s-who: there’s a female Thor, a tiger Wolverine, an Archangel-Magneto-hybrid, and more. Seriously, buy a copy of Supernatural Agents just to see who’s been stolen. It’s a hoot.
But stolen characters aren’t the only nuggets you’ll find in this little gem. You’ll also get artwork that looks like it’s straight out of 1991. In fact, because the title, characters, and art are so generic, when I first picked up a copy of Supernatural Agents, I earnestly thought I was reviewing one of those how-to-draw-you-own-comic guides. It wasn’t until I started flipping through the pages that I realized this was the real deal. Now, while there’s nothing wrong with being generic, I do believe if you want to stand out from the thousands-upon-thousands of other comics being made every year, it’s best to have your work stay away from conformity as much as possible. Trying to blend-in will, ironically, only achieve exactly that: you’ll fit-in so well, no one will even know you’re there.
Another issue I have with this franchise is a problem I’m seeing in a lot indie comics lately: typos. I don’t know who’s at fault, the writer or letterer, but mistakes like this shouldn’t be happening in a published comic. I won’t burden the reader with all the examples I’ve found, but I will point to one typo that particularly caught my attention. It’s literally the last line of the story, so it’s not hard to miss. It happens after the supernatural agents discover who’s behind all the bad stuff. At this point, the Cyclops-look-a-like gives his teammates a stern look and solemnly declares: “He’s the greatest treat we ever faced.” I laughed my butt off at this part. I’m pretty sure the writing staff meant to write ‘threat’ instead of ‘treat’, but somewhere down the line it got overlooked. I have to say while this typo made my day, it shouldn’t be found in a professional comic book.
Anyway, I think I’ve said enough to convince you Supernatural Agents isn’t worth your time. It’s too bad because you can tell the people involved are very hardworking and dedicated. The comic isn’t a disaster either: the arts’ fine, the story’s well-crafted, and the general feel of the comic is very proficient. The problem is these guys seem to be stuck in the early 90’s. If they want to compete with premium titles like X-Men, Justice League, and Extremity, not only do they need to start creating their own original content, but also they need to leave their comfort zone and join everyone else in the year 2017.
Supernatural Agents #1
Writer: Paul Beale
Artist: Luis Rivera
Colorist: Nimesh Morarji
Letterer: Giovanni Capurro
Publisher: Advent Comics