Monday, May 21, 2012

Honor Brigade: Space Fight!

For whatever reason, I seem to get a lot of emails that basically run like this...

...Hello, I am going to start my own comics with a cohesive super hero universe, but it's going to be different than Marvel and DC because I'm going to put the fun back in the comics...

I'd say, for most people, that email is probably about as far as they ever get. Very few actually deliver on their promised goal. That's because putting together a comic is very, very hard. It's not only expensive, but you also have logistical issues to deal with (artists schedules, lettering, publishing, ect...)

So, when I see someone actually succeed in their goal as well as writer Tom Stillwell and artist Jethro Morales have in Honor Brigade: Space Fight #1, I am summarily impressed!

I discovered this comic while looking at comic book projects on and I was lucky enough to be able to be able to get a pdf version of the comic for the modest  donation of $5.00. This was the first time I had ever heard of The Honor Brigade, but apparently, Tom has been working with his own universe of characters for quite some time over at where he has other comics and graphic novels available for purchase.

You never know what you are going to get with self-published comics. Sometimes, it's just the 88th incarnation of Spawn or Batman with little to no innovation. I'm happy to say, that's not the case here. Honor Brigade is comic that reminds me of the best of the off brand comics I remember from the glory days of the industry. If you told me this was a lost Ultraverse or Valiant comic from their publishing heyday, I could totally believe it. In all honesty, it has the feel and pacing of the legendary Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League.

Check out this Giffenesque exchange between Toyboy and Lightning Rod (click to read at full size)

The plot is straightforward enough that if gives Stillwell the room to introduce a dizzying array of characters to the reader without getting bogged down in back story. I sense that Stillwell, like myself, understands his audience doesn't need each and every characters origin spoonfed to them in the first outing. What we want is to see the archetypes interact in a fun and engaging way, and The Honor Brigade delivers on that in spades!

In many ways, this comic reminds me of Invincible. Not in its level of violence, but in how it plays superheroes straight and never tries to parody the genre or slip into meta textural commentary. The art also has the same light touch that makes Invincible easy to read. Morales has a style that is clean and simple, yet dynamic enough to make the pages fun to look at. He also does an amazing job giving each and every character a distinct look and feel which is quite a task when you are dealing with the huge cast that Stillwell has dreamed up!

If my review still hasn't swayed you, you can always read free samples at for yourself. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

- Jim


Trey said...

Good looking art on this, and nice dialogue as one say. The sample page though could do with a bit more Giffen influence in the panel design. There's a lot of whitespace there where we could have more Morales art!

Caine said...

I supported this Kickstarter campaign and the first issue (all ready delivered) was very fun indeed.

To go along with those who email you, there was an interview done with Tom Stillwell & Spinner Rack comics by me.

I've posted it on the new and growing FBU Facebook page:

Blitzdawg said...

Truly the two most important commodities for a comic book artist or writer is 1) Time followed by 2) Money. If you can't have can't have uninterrupted stretches of time to dedicate solely to a project you can't get the creative work done. If you don't have the money you can't get it printed/ditributed/converted and placed on a website, etc. It's a one-two punch.

Blitzdawg said...

...and my typing makes my comments look like they were written by the Hulk. AAAaarrrghh!

JimShelley said...

@Trey - the panel design on that page is a good representative of the rest of the comic. I just happened to pick that page because of the dialogue.

JimShelley said...

@Caine - Ha! Talk about synchronicity! Also, I need to send you a better version of the logo for that page.

JimShelley said...

@Blitzdawg - your comments about time and money ring true to my ears. Have you ever thought about doing a kickstarter project?

John M. Burt said...

I would like it better if it were more Giffen and less DeMatteis, but it does look promising.

Maybe if my book starts selling, I'll be able to start buying comics again.

I am glad I found this blog, which happened only because I was looking for a new front-page image for my Airboy group [], and found a 2009 post of yours about an Airboy cameo.

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