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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Freelancers 1 (of 3) . Roger Bonet (Writer), Ivan Arnal (Art), Rafa Barragan (Colours), Henar Casal (Letters). WP Comics (2017)

A very enjoyable and engaging story that mixes profound cynicism and superheroes to great effect. The Freelancers are a superhero group that are also stars of a reality show on Free TV. When Daikaiju, God of Pestilence explodes from a poisoned river the Freelancers are sent to deal with him, with nicely unpredictable results.
From the start Roger Bonet strikes the balance of the story, Daikaiju is called fort when a when a rotting sandwich is thrown into the river, it is the final item needed to create the conditions for the monster's entrance. The story moves forward with the context for the Freelancers being set up as the TV show they they lead is put into action to capture their triumphant battle with Daikaiju. Roger Bonet has made a very interesting story decision, this is not a superhero parody or a straight expose of hollow actors in spandex, there is a much darker and interesting set of factors at work, the Freelances are not who they are presented to the public, they are also not what might have been expected. It becomes clear that a very dark bargain has been struck and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out as the pressure seriously esclates.
Ivan Arnal's art manages to capture the different aspects of the story with considerable flair and sharp detail. The superhero action is as big and loud as it should be, the quieter action of the TV show is delivered with great force. The shifting requirements of each section are held together with tremendous use of panels to control the pace of the story and to pull the threads of the story together. A small sequence featuring a an assault on a well known franchise about robots who can convert into vehicles is a little self indulgent, it still sets up a smart joke.
Rafa Barragan's colours are superb, they capture the very different emotional context's of the story as the action moves from one location to another. They are as bright as they should be for superhero action, equally bright with different tones and emphasis for the action in the studio.
Henar Casal's sound effects are a joy, they lift the action right off the page with great force and impact. They are cartoony and explosive, the dialogue lettering is natural on the pages and delivers change of tone and emphasis with subtle care.
Roger Bonet has sidestepped a serious problem with any alternative approach to superhero storytelling avoiding the dominant versions of playing with or embracing the absurdity. The concept of people with extraordinary abilities is wholly embraced, the context in which they act has been given a refreshingly different set. Cynicism should be kryponite to superheros, instead it has been carefully used to make them more engaging and cleverly increase the stakes for everyone.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of Freelancers 1, which you should to enjoy such darkly creative story from very talented creators, it is available from

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