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 Kickstarter.com 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 www.honorbrigadecomic.com 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!
HonorBrigaded.com for yourself. Do yourself a favor and check it out!