Review - Stealth #1 (@imagecomics)

"Detroit mocks all attempts to save it."

Detroit as a city has certainly seen better days. For a myriad of reasons though, the city continues to be left behind and in Stealth #1 from Image Comics it's a city looking for a hero, but not necessarily the one it used to have. The issue is written by Mike Costa, illustrated by Nate Bellegarde, colored by Tamra Bonvillain and lettered by Sal Cipriano.

For decades, Stealth has waged war on crime in Detroit, but now he’s taken his pursuit of justice too far. Only reporter Tony Barber knows that behind Stealth’s reckless behavior is an older man battling Alzheimer’s—his father. A father unwilling to accept that he’s no longer the hero this city needs…with enemies all too eager to force his retirement.

Costa anchors Stealth #1 in a very real setting--a decaying Detroit and the effect it has on the people within it. Tony's father is a great example of a character who is struggling to hang onto the past at the expense of the present and Tony is the one who ultimately bears responsibility for his father's care. Costa's script is brutally honest when reconciling the two arcs, as the characters impactfully deliver their lines in a sobering way. There's no need to sugarcoat anything in a story like this as Costa is quite elegantly making a case as to cities being left behind and the supposed remedies taken to alleviate their being behind. The characters in the story are also very believable as well, adding a sense of humanity to the book that really helps deliver the message with more gravitas.

Bellegarde's approach on art is very well done, in that it effortlessly captures the demoralizing atmosphere a city like Detroit embodies. The city itself is drawn quite plainly with Costa rendering interiors sparsely furnished and without much in the way of embellishments. The characters reflect very clean linework that gives the book a sense of reality and making it more relatable to the reader. Bellegarde even manages to makes the character of Stealth feel somewhat realistic, eschewing a seemingly impractical costume for one that makes more sense considering the setting of the book. Bonvillain's colors are largely darker and help to add to the relatively depressing tone of the setting.

Stealth #1 is an appeal to a world where cities aren't left behind by society at large--told through the prism of a family struggling with their lives. Tony's father's mental decline is a great parallel for the decline of Detroit as a whole, offering a way for a reader who isn't in Detroit (or a similarly affected area) to better understand its plight. Costa's script is fundamental in its approach yet dense in its symbolism. Bellegarde's illustrations are the right fit for the book as they encapsulate a city under siege from capitalism and a lack of social support. Stealth #1 is more than a capes and tights book--it's a statement about how greed leaves behind the people who need help the most.

Stealth #1 is available now.