Comic Review: Creator-Owned Heroes #5

Creator-Owned Heroes #5
Written by Steve Niles, Jay Russell, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray
Art by Andrew Ritchie, Jerry Lando
Covers by Dave Johnson, Andrew Ritchie
Image Comics
Release Date: October 10, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99

Creator-Owned Heroes helps fill the huge void in my monthly comic experience left by the demise of Wizard magazine. This comic/magazine features two serialized comics and articles focused on independent creators. This is my go-to source each month to hear comic creative types talk shop and shower us with tidbits of advice.

The previous issue concluded the stories of American Muscle and Trigger Girl 6. Creator-Owned Heroes #5 kicks off two new stories and, as always, includes fantastic articles to guide wannabe creators on the path to riches and fame.

The first new series introduced in this issue is Killswitch. A contract assassin named Killswitch is given the assignment to take out a Russian drug tsar while on a plane. Killswitch executes his task flawlessly, except for the fact that he has a weakness for leggy, hot blondes. He decides to save the drug tsar’s wife for a hookup later on. Killswitch and the drug tsar’s wife parachute off the plane and land near a swanky hotel in the middle of the jungle. There Killswitch runs into a bottom-feeding assassin with no morals, The Ferret. Both assassins are drawn into an indirect battle to death leaving Killswitch to find out who has a contract out on his head.

Killswitch is a Dexter-for-profit type who morally justifies his actions through a moral code””he’s taking out evil one bullet at a time. His whole beef with The Ferret is that he’s solely in the business for the money. This story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti is action-packed and sets up an ambush on Killswitch; I’m anxious to see how he wiggles out of this mess.

The second new story, Black Sparrow, is a two-parter that keeps its cards close to the chest. The story takes place in 1884. Sam seems to be a psychopathic killer as evidenced by the opening scene where he can’t help but crush a poor innocent sparrow in his hands. One year later, he’s executed for an unknown crime and his body is delivered to his family. The driver of the wagon delivers an ominous message to the family that Sam can’t be buried deep enough. A zombie story perhaps? Tune in next month.

Steve Niles’ story in Black Sparrow is a minimalist. It cuts out all but the most essential dialogue and lets the art tell the tale. The panels are printed on an off-color, textured background that gives the pages an aged appearance. The coloring is flat with a limited palette which enhances the minimalist effect that works well with this type of story. I’m not certain how well Black Sparrow works as a serialized comic since it establishes so little characterization to hook in readers, but I’ll wait for its conclusion next month to fully judge it.

Creator-Owned Heroes #5 includes excellent instructional articles. In Interview with Amanda Conner, she discusses her unique introduction to the comic industry. She also gives some great advice to artists looking to break into the business and talks about the tools and paper she uses to produce her art.

Writing Comics, Part One by Steve Niles is worth its weight in gold to anybody interested in the mechanics of comic writing. I never knew that writers released their comic scripts””the thought of looking for an actual script has never even occurred to me.

Also included is a preview to Image’s new series, Retrovirus. Writer Justin Gray discusses how the concept came to fruition including his fascination with the science behind ancient bugs, viruses, and humans. It shows. Most representations of cavemen, or Neanderthals, in pop-culture is grossly incorrect. It’s nice to see Neanderthals envisioned as the menacing, Arnold Schwarzenegger types that they most likely were. The short preview whet my appetite for what appears to be an awesome Jurassic Park kind of story.

Creator-Owned Heroes is one of my favorite monthly releases. It provides a huge service to the comics fans by highlighting independent creators as well as giving in-depth advice on the craft of sequential art. The previous stories Trigger Girl and American Muscle, were great reads; the two new stories introduced in Issue #5 are off to a great start. The articles in this issue are entirely focused on comics, whereas earlier issues have included articles covering people in professions such as a fitness trainer and a cosplayer. While I enjoyed the look at other independent types, I like the more comic-focused approach better. Creator-Owned Heroes is well worth a purchase for all comic fans.

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