Monday, January 13, 2014

Review - Skyman #1

"Hurry up. I'm about to hit the President going five G's..."

If comics have taught us anything it's that in tough times, societies tend to create the hero necessary to save the day. They also likely kill them off once they've created them (comics again), but that's neither here nor there. The point is that a good protector goes a long way in actually protecting, but also in making the sponsoring agent look good and caring. Sometimes, that protector goes off the rails and another must be chosen, giving way to a book like Skyman #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The first issue is written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, penciled by Manuel Garcia, inked by Bit, colored by Marta Martinez and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

If you've been following Captain Midnight, you know that recently, he really handed it to Skyman. It was an embarassing defeat that sent the latter into a dramatic, alcohol fueled tailspin that ended with one innocent man dead and a PR nightmare for the United States of America. Because of those unfortunate events, the Skyman program is tasked with finding a new face of the franchise so to speak and they turn to US Air Force Sgt. Eric Reid, a wounded veteran struggling to find a new lease on life.

Skyman is a very interesting foil to Captain Midnight and Fialkov ensure's that contrast is on fully display in Skyman #1. He hits rock-bottom, which is something could be applied to somewhat to Reid's situation as well, considering he's forced to endure physical therapy and suspicion over an incident that led to soldier casualties. That's about the only similarity between the former Skyman and Reid. Still though, Fialkov eases the reader into the new role of Skyman, someone chosen for practical reasons as much as PR reasons. What's fascinating is the subtext Fialkov weaves into the tale, where even though the Civil Rights movement is very much in the past, there are still lingering prejudices. It's a little bit of art imitating life in a way, forcing Reid to deal with both his injury and blatant disgust by some for the choice of him as the new Skyman.

Garcia's pencils are very deliberate and defined. Some of the looks at Reid as Skyman reek of steroids, as the character looks insanely buffed and bordering on superhero. In other panels, there's a smoothness to the illustrations that's probably attributed to Bit's inks and accented by the colors of Martinez. Garcia is fond of wide-reaching, rectangular panels, almost simulating multiple two-page spreads on single pages in a way. He's not the first or only to do this, but it's something that stands out as you read the issue. He does a great job with character positioning reflective of the situation; for instance, there's a couple of panels where Reid is coming to grips with his newfound abilities and looks sufficiently flustered physically.

Skyman #1 is a much different book than Captain Midnight and that's perfectly fine. The two characters have different motivations for why they do what they do and the choice of Reid as the next Skyman will prove interesting if (when?) he crosses paths with Captain Midnight. Some characters exhibit rather blatant racism towards Reid, which could feel sort of like a cheap way to build his character, but Fialkov manages to interweave it in pretty subtly. The art team does a great job and keeps the book firmly on the line between normal and capes and tights book. If you've been reading the Captain Midnight series, Skyman #1 is definitely worth your time. If you haven't been reading the series, you'll still likely find some enjoyment in reading Skyman #1.

Skyman #1 is available in stores January 15.


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