If there’s one genre of comic books I don’t usually gravitate towards its indie superhero titles. I’m not going to go into the long list of “whys”, but trust me it’s a difficult genre for anyone to get right. Mostly because you’re competing with companies that only make superhero comics. When I saw that Pop! Goes The Icon’s newest series Old Wounds was taking a dip in that pool, I held back my reservations and braced for whatever ride they were about to take me on. Their series last year, San Hannibal, was a pulpy P.I. story which is another overdone genre, but it owned it. In fact San Hannibal dominated the genre and ended up being my pick of the year. Now, I didn’t go into Old Wounds with a lot of expectations because the two titles are very different and come from different creators. But I liked what I saw from Pop! Goes The Icon and so a genre I usually wouldn’t bother with instantly became one I needed to check out.
While I don’t think Old Wounds is reinventing the genre, to say that it’s just good would be an understatement. It does however execute a well told story that focuses on its characters, world and plot. It doesn’t waste time trying to homage to other comic properties or give some philosophy on the genre. It does have a pretty fresh angle though.
The story opens up with a man being woken up in bed with some knocking on his door. He answers to find two police detectives; they come inside and inform him that his ex-wife is dead and that they need to ask him some questions. The man, Michael Lane, takes a moment to compose himself and asks if he can wrap his head around everything and meet them at the station later. Of course they agree and after they leave he hits a button that reveals his crime fighting room and newspaper clippings that reveal that he and his ex-wife fought crime together.
We have our premise of a retired (due to an injury) crime fighter, now being looked at like a murder suspect and of course he can’t verify anything because again he’s a retired masked vigilante. That alone is enough of a reason to buy this issue.
Writer Russell Lissau crafts a believable tale. We don’t see much of Michael’s glory days, but they’re no dudes flying around and it’s basically all fisticuffs. The story unfolds nicely and with each new page Lissau hooks you a little more. The ending of the issue in particular was a great hook. Yes it’s a cliffhanger of sorts, but it’s a good cliffhanger because you should want to come back to solve the mystery rather than to finish seeing how the events unfold.
On artist is John Bivens and I dig his particular style. The issue is in all black and white and frankly it works better that way. I don’t know if adding color would make the story more effective, but I can definitely see it making it less effective. Bivens’ illustrations are very realistic, but he keeps it out of the realm of “photo-realistic” buy having distinct character designs. Michael’s look is rough with shabby hair and stubble well past five o’clock. His nose is imperfect and looks like it’s been broken which adds such a small detail to the character, but a great detail none the less. Because it’s not colored the art is built from the ground up for black and white and if you know anything about comics that’s an important distinction because it means the lighting and shadowing is different and it just creates a personality for the series.
You have some time before this book is out so I would definitely recommend pre-ordering it. If you know anything about me then you know that I don’t read very many superhero titles and so when I recommend one it’s because it really struck a chord with me. Old Wounds has my attention and hopefully yours too.
Writer: Russell Lissau Artist: John Bivens Publisher: Pop! Goes The Icon Price: $2.99 Release Date: April 2015 Format: Mini-Series; Print
You can also hear me talk about Old Wounds on our comic podcast the CBMFP!