By Dustin Cabeal
If there’s one thing I’ve written over and over in reviews, it’s that I don’t care for indie superhero stories. Lately though, at least this year, I have found several titles that I have in fact liked. I will have to retire that old statement. It may not be a genre I seek out in the indie world, but damn, some of these creators are delivering while the big companies continue to deliver the same old shit.
My only advice for you is not to read the zero issue. I don’t know if the creators are even selling it or if it was just something for me to see as well, but I looked at it, loved the art and instantly realized that I was reading a short preview of what I was about to blitz through. I wish I hadn’t, but a real testament to the comic is that I still enjoyed and the comic and forgot all about the zero issue until I was done.
The story is primarily about the passing of the torch between one hero and generation to the other. It’s a mentor book, but unlike so many comics out there, it’s about two women and get this… they were clothing! Yes, one of them has a costume showing a little leg, but it's pretty cool looking in my opinion. The passing of said torch comes after Mel stumbles through a graveyard bleeding out. She’s ready to die but ends up sharing a bench with a teenager that’s avoiding her family. Jessie, the young girl, is rude at first until she realizes that there’s a woman dying next to the side of her. This is frankly the moment that I was sold on the book because I think a lot of us have been in a similar moment in which we’re rude at first because of what we have going on, only to discover that we’re an asshole and someone else has it much worse.
The issues are short after Mel passes her powers to Jessie, her “bosses” grant her a pardon and restore her life. They begin mentoring and training, but also bonding as they go to eat and we learn a little of Mel’s backstory. I hope that we continue to hear more of Mel’s stories because she is an absolute badass. Her first fight could have been typical and boring, but instead, the narration adds to her personality and gives the comic depth.
There are some clunky bits between issues, particularly between issue two and three. For the most part, though the writing is sharp, passionate and believable. In a lot of ways I can see the manga influence to the tale, but I could be reading into that. For three quick issues you come away having a very good sense of the characters and the story, but with plenty of mystery left to discover and a world that is full of life ready to be interacted with.
The art instantly sold me. The style alone is one I would like to see more of in comics as its simple, but detailed. There’s a balance to what is and isn’t on the page. The backgrounds are lush and full, which helps the world feel alive. Then there’s the clothing. Holy shit I think people would actually wear them! Hoodies, skinny jeans, and scarfs! Seriously though, realistic clothing is always something strangely missing in comics, so when I see a great example, I appreciate it. The art is strong enough that if the story was weak, it could distract you from it. Because both of them are so strong, they elevate each other making for a comic that is fun to read and beautiful to look at too.
I hope there are more issues to read. Punchline not only surprised me, but it made me want to read more. Hell, I’m giving up my mantra of, “I don’t read indie superhero books” because of Punchline. My bottom line is that yeah, there’s a lot of superhero comics and so if you’re not looking for something different or at least well-written, then no, Punchline isn’t for you. It should be, but hey some readers are stuck in a rut of what they know and nothing else. If you’re looking for something new and like superheroes, then please check out Punchline. It’s damn good.