Review: Reality Check #1

Reality Check is the perfect name for this comic.  Many things about our protagonist Willard Penn’s life deserve a reality check.  He gets emails all the time from Marvel and DC to check his availability, but they never offer him work.  He thinks he’s come up with a hit comic, but he only sells 200 copies.  He had the girl of his dreams, only to let his comic writing get in the way of their relationship.  Now that he comes up with a story based around his own life while putting it into the superhero world, will his Dark Hour comic finally be his big break? At first, we’re introduced to Willard (or Will for short) and my first impression of him was your typical nerdy, failed writer type living in LA.  He’s in his late 20s, overweight, and is living in an apartment by himself.  He wants nothing more than to be a comic writer; that meant turning down writing a Girls Gone Wild video (which, admittedly he now regrets).  They show him in a coffee shop checking out the women in the store, and sketching a few for character ideas in his comic.  He thinks one of them looked like a mix between Vampirella, Catwoman, and Black Cat all in one.  Her friend actually sees Will sketching them, and is flattered.  When they end up finding out that it’s for a comic and not a TV show, and due to some of the lines Willard was writing down saying how beautiful they were, he gets slapped in the face.  Here, I couldn’t empathize with Willard since what he was doing was pretty creepy.

After this flashback, Willard introduces himself and says the project he’s working on is called Dark Hour.  It follows Thomas Scott, a wealthy entrepreneur.  His specially modified elevator (much like a phone booth for Superman) lets him transform into Dark Hour, his superhero form.  We see him first take down his arch nemesis the Devil-Inside, since he robbed a bank and took a woman hostage on the roof.  The catch is that Dark Hour isn’t really into serving justice at all.  He just wants to find love more than anything (and he’s looking in the clichéd ‘all the wrong places’).  Willard himself describes Dark Hour as “libidinal Batman.”  Dark Hour is actually frustrated that he has to save someone-he’d rather be hooking up with Demonica.  He’s also full of your typical superhero one-liners.  When he’s fighting Devil-Inside, he shouts “When you interfere with my social life, that’s when you really crossed the line!”  It cuts to Will talking to two publisher executives at a presumably independent company who give him the deal.  His dream has come true.

realitycheck01_coverThis is where I started to feel sympathy for Will.  He has to leave a message on his mom’s phone telling her about the deal he got.  He can’t think of anyone else to call but his brother Timothy, who died when they were in college together.  Will always looked up to Timmy.  When they were kids, Will cracked his head open when they were playing Batman and Robin, and Timmy carried him to the hospital, saving his life.  In college, Timmy introduced Will to Alison, a girl way out of Will’s league.  But Timmy coached Will, and before long they were a couple.  At a frat party, Timmy got into a fist fight and his head slammed into the pavement.  Will was too late getting him to the hospital, and they couldn’t save Timmy.  Will exerted a focus he never had before into his art.  His relationship with Alison soon faded, and she started seeing other people.  Will thought he had a hit on his hands with his new comic, but it only sold 200 copies.  But now he has Dark Hour.

At the end of the issue, Will gets a call from the publishers.  Universal, Sony, and Lionsgate have offered him TV deals.  They just need to know how the first story arc of Dark Hour ends.  Dark Hour #1 sold out, and Diamond had 10,000 unfilled orders, so it’s going to a second print.  Will’s weeks late on getting #2 to the publishers.  The problem is, Will is going crazy at 4AM and can’t remember anything about Dark Hour’s story, seemingly having extreme writer’s block.  And at that moment, none other than Dark Hour himself comes in through the window, and he needs Will’s help.  He also says that he doesn’t just reside inside Will’s head anymore, he actually exists.

This comic is very unique in my opinion.  The story weaves about seamlessly throughout Will’s past experiences, his struggle to become an accomplished writer and as a bonus, we even get a glimpse into his own comic, Dark Hour.  The story itself is dramatic, endearing, witty, and overall just a lot of fun to read.  The characters are strong, the art is great, and I was sucked in through every page.  I can’t wait to see how Will’s and Dark Hour’s dynamics play off each other.  Will Willard helping out Dark Hour in his love life in turn help Will’s own?  Will Dark Hour help Willard remember the story, and make his dreams come true by finally becoming an accomplished writer and artist?  What about the other characters from Dark Hour, will they come to life too?  Either way, this issue has definitely piqued my interest, and I can’t wait for the next issue.  Image, please stop making so many great #1 issues, my pull list can only fit so many of your books.  Seriously though, if you’re a fan of virtually any type of comics, there’s something to enjoy in Reality Check #1.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Glen Brunswick Artist: Viktor Bogdanavic Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 9/4/13