Comic Review: Creator-Owned Heroes #2

Creator-Owned Heroes #2
Written by Steve Niles, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray
Art by Phil Noto, Kevin Mellon
Letters by Bill Tortolini
Image Comics
Release Date: July 4, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99

Creator-Owned Heroes is Image’s new monthly series that highlights the original content of established comic book talent. More than “just a comic,” it’s a feature-packed magazine that celebrates creative independence. How appropriate that the second issue was released on the 4th of July. You definitely get your money’s worth; this book is loaded with content with two ongoing comic series, interviews, editorials, and how-to features.

The comic book portion, which makes up about two-thirds of the book, continues the Triggergirl and American Muscle series that kicked off last month. American Muscle is a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ish story where human immune systems have completely stopped functioning. The comic follows a small group of survivors and their search for a safe, permanent place to start a new life. In the last issue, they made their way to Los Angeles only to discover that it has become a zombie-riddled wasteland that’s falling into the Pacific Ocean.

Even though the market is inundated with doomsday comics, this story grabbed my attention from the opening moments of Creator-Owned Heroes #1. This issue introduces a new set of zombies that appear much more menacing than the Fat Bastard look-alikes that burst open like water-balloons after stumbling into some well-placed headshots. Kevin Mellon‘s artwork is simply stunning. Its rusty, grungy, painted appearance is almost a perfect visual for the setting. I’m a complete mark for the zombie apocalypse, so I have high hopes for this series.

The first issue of Triggergirl was far too brief to make any kind of impression and leaned heavily on Phil Noto‘s artwork to tell the story. However, this issue reveals several more layers of Jimmy Palmiotti‘s and Justin Gray‘s story concept. Assassins, known as Triggergirls, are making ever-closer attempts on the President of the United States. The comic follows the story of Triggergirl 6 from her birth in a lab. Apparently this lab grows Triggergirls and then sends them off to assassinate U.S. politicians.

It’s still unclear where the roles fall in this comic. It could be anything: the President is the villain, or Triggergirl is a victim of her evil creators, or Triggergirl herself is the villain. Who knows? Several clues in the setting point out that this takes place in a Back to the Future 2-style, tacky future where tanks roam the streets of DC and the land isn’t so green anymore. Yeah, so basically we still know nothing at this point beyond the fact that Triggergirl is badass and wants to kill the President. As in American Muscle, the art quality is off the charts with Phil Noto’s trademark sketchy and realistic proportioned style. His illustration of women is always tasteful and beautiful; Triggergirl is no exception.

Given the short length of the comics, the extra feature articles might be considered the actual meat of Creator-Owned Heroes. I loved the interview with Bill Tortolini, the “Invisible Hero” comic book letterer. These guys are like the offensive lineman of comics who only get noticed if they screw up. His short interview does a great job highlighting the vital and overlooked art of lettering. As someone who wants to write and draw my own comics, I also found Jimmy Palmiotti’s column about digital art tools and Kickstarter to be highly informative. Now I just have to figure out how to get the wife onboard with that snazzy $2,600 Wacom screen. Also included are inspiring, non-comic features such as an interview with Victoria Pal who dropped everything to pursue her dream of starting a personal training business.

The two comic series haven’t quite hooked me in yet, but both titles hold great promise and I’m excited to watch both stories progress. They’re quick reads””too quick, actually. Which is my sole complaint about the book: I wish the comics were longer. The flipside is that I’d hate to sacrifice any of the articles and interviews. Considering the price, the extra effort placed into producing this magazine is a bargain. The real draw of Creator-Owned Heroes is the idealism that imbues the entire book. This is the kind of title that I love supporting. Even though I got a review copy, I’m still throwing down for the retail version. If you have ever dreamed of leaving your mundane desk job to pursue your creative passion, pick up Creator-Owned Heroes for some welcome inspiration.

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