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Sunday, July 26, 2015

App-1#1. Jim Alexander (Writer), Eva Holder, Conor Boyle, Iella (Art),Jim Campbell (Letters), Planet Jimbot.(2015)

A clever and engaging set up that neatly solves some story problems that are inherent with superhero stories.
"Tounge Lasher" written by Jim Alexander, art by Eva Holder, letters by Jim Campbell. Three children out playing encounter an old man who places all of them in danger. In a very short space Jim Alexander provides the context for the present, there are monsters about and they are deadly. By setting up children who are flirting with the danger and an old man who invites it, the information needed is delivered in a natural and effective way. Monsters are a story problem, how to balance threat with credibility is always tricky, Jim Alexander does it with black humour that establishes the threat without having to be gory as well.
Eva Holders art is just right, it is soft and slightly cartoony, it makes the context very clear without ever being too explicit. The cast are great, the three children look young, determined and frightened, their energy contrasts very well with the fatal resignation of the old man. They want to come right up to the edge, they do not want to cross over it. The bogey is a triumph, a fish like creature that has a malicious presence and a real force.
"Above Us Only Sky" art by Conor Boyle, letters by Jim Campbell and written by Jim Alexander introduces APP-1 and shows him flexing his superhero muscles. An initial encounter with a young fan and a problem with a flaming super-sphere falling from the sky frame APP-1 very nicely, attentive to a fan and effective against a threat. There is a glimpse of the person inside the costume as well.
Conor Boyle's art is captures the superheroics strongly, APP-1 in flight relative to his fan on the ground is great, it places APP-1 in a human context before he is placed in a superhero context with the flaming super-sphere. The action is very well done, it takes an effort and work to manage the super-sphere. APP-1 has to extend himself to deal with the problem which makes the problem all the more interesting.
"The Scorch Interview" written by Jim Alexander, art by Conor Boyle is a short text piece that does a lot of heavy lifting. The interview takes place at a book signing by APP-1 promoting his book "Look to the Future". The questions are exactly what an interview for a magazine aimed at teenagers would be, mostly puff and with some unexpected grit, it is the frighteningly sincere answers that are the dark joy of the piece. APP-1 takes the questions seriously and answers them directly and they uncomfortably revealing.
"Scout", Letters by Jim Campbell, art by Iella and written by Jim Alexander provides a missing and crucial piece of information that ties the whole set up together. The difference between having superpowers and coping with having superpowers is a fruitful story idea and Jim Alexander uses it with skill as unintended consequences make themselves felt. Iella's art is striking different from the previous two sections and this works strongly for the story. It is much harder and less detailed that the others, the figures look stressed and tired. The cast are not heroic, they are human and trying to solve a superhuman problem.
Happily this is not something new in superheroics, it is much better than that, it is something thoughtful and considered in superheroics. Frequently the least interesting charachter in a superhero comic is the superhero, the story fails to give the superhero a problem that is interesting and challenging to solve, APP-1 has a widespread cast all of who share a interesting and challenging problem to solve and APP-1 is rightly at the heart of it.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Jim Alexander. To purchase a copy of APP_1, which would be a good thing to do, it's available to buy at the Planet Jimbot shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/241056959/app-11.

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