Sparks #1 by Christopher Folino & JM Ringuet
Summary: A film noir story about a man who will do anything to be the super hero of his dreams.
Lee: Talk about grim and gritty. WOW! This is as grim and gritty as I have seen in a long time. This was advertised as Superhero Noir and that is certainly and apt description. Overall it was very well done. The story in a nutshell is superheroes without powers or the ordinary man wearing a costume and protecting the innocent. The opening in typical noir with the bloody hero telling his tale to a tape recorder but that’s perfect! The story moves quickly and gives us enough detail to make the main character interesting and leaves enough out to fill back story later. It also did a good job with the cliffhanger ending.
Jim: I loved the beginning; it is a direct lift (homage) of an old movie D.O.A. The first version was 1950 and the second was 1988 (I looked it up). The guy walks into a police station and asks for help for someone the find his murderer. It was done perfectly here and gave us the lead in to “Sparks” story. The setting is in 1948, which helps the “noir” quality of the book”.
The origin is a mix of a classic tragic beginning as Sparks is in the back seat of his parents’ car when a police chase pushes them into the path of an oncoming train. Mom and Dad are killed and a strange substance hits our hero. We have not seen any powers from this in issues #1, but still it was classic and horrific. At his parents’ greave site as he is narrating his story the quote of the book is “I believe it was fate to become a super and to save others, proof right there I was a moron at an early age.” He then goes on to become a local hero (think Kick-Ass, but this was being done long before that book and does not dwell on that period) and is successful.
He then moves to the big city, meets a female super and they are a couple. The ending was terrific as you want to get to the next page as they are exploring a mystery as to what is going on inside of this building. What was so well done is they dropped all narration and dialogue so the pace was increased since you only needed to look at the pictures. At the end of issue #1, you have to get issue #2.
Lee: The art was really good. It has a hard angular edge that reminds me of older Eric Canete. There were a couple of “contortionist” moments and some generally looonnng bodies where the figure work broke down but for the most part it held up and conveyed the story. When it comes to anatomy, I feel that if it’s the same disproportion or wonky anatomy throughout, it’s ok but when it’s grossly inconsistent between pages then there’s trouble. For example, Basil Wolverton has “interesting” anatomy but it was always the same “interesting “anatomy”. Honestly, I enjoyed that the “errors” were consistent too.
Jim: I agree the art is well done. There was one contortionist move by “Lady” in one panel that had me scratching my head, but otherwise the art was well done. The level of detail in the backgrounds was another huge plus for me. Especially since the setting is in a city.
Lee: The panel composition was nice too. Ringuet certainly isn’t afraid of panels, that’s for sure. There’s some splash pages but for the most part each page has anywhere from 3-10 panels. And, they all worked pretty well. Its obvious Ringuet put lots of effort and thought into the layout and we readers were rewarded by it.
Jim: The design of the book was very good. Each page lead into the next and splash panels worked to add dramatic effect when the story called for it. An excellent marriage and story and art.
Lee: Finally, the colors were fantastic. Except for a few cheerful moments, it’s always dark and always morbid. The colors convey the atmosphere without making the art muddy. It’s a fine line that Ultimates couldn’t achieve but is perfectly done here. It reminded me of the movie Seven in which, until the last scene in the movie, it always rained.
Jim: With the technology and printing capabilities we have today if you are going to have color it has to be done right. A bad coloring job can kill a book and a good one can make it even better. This book did the later and the colors really worked well.
Lee:I would go A-. It’s a very strong start and much better than I expected. I’m looking forward to reading more.
Jim: I was the one who was worried about this comic as they used the producer’s past history with “Greatest American Hero” as an advertising point. It was scaring me off the book as that show was not something I enjoyed, but this book is excellent.