Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: The Mighty Titan #1

And now, my first review of a comic at the NewtCave! Instead of looking at something from one of the big two, or Dark Horse, or Image, or something, I'm going to be looking at an independent comic that exists completely thanks to Kickstarter. Without further ado, let's look at... The Mighty Titan.

 In an odd reversal, I’m going to start by evaluating the artwork.  The Mighty Titan, in terms of art work, is on par with… let’s say “higher end” independent work. While the fine tuning of the art once the digital inking/coloring process begins naturally isn’t going to be as good as more mainstream comics that have an entire studio working on the colors, it’s easily far above average.

In fact, I’d say that the color pallet has a distinct advantage over a few “professional” comics I’ve seen, in that it’s actively attempting to be bright and colorful and succeeding. Also worthy of mention is the supplemental artwork/variant covers being done for the series by individuals like Jerry Ordway and Bryan Hitch, so that's a nice little bonus.

Bryan Hitch cover for upcoming Mighty Titan/Shadowflame crossover.
Now, what works very well is the basic setting… which is completely standard. 
Let me explain.
Hero- Superman/Captain Marvel-type
Villain- Giant Cyborg robbing a bank
Big Bad- MAD SCIENCE mastermind

But is this a bad thing? No. In fact, it helps with the book’s actual purpose. Even without that, the world portrayed is more than its inspirations.

Let’s get to the main character: Titan.
Titan himself is your run-of-the-mill Superman/Captain Marvel expy, but the way he’s portrayed, he reminds me more of Spider-Man, with his general cheerfulness. It’s actually a really nice contrast to the grim n’ gritty trends in even the lighter comics published by the big two.

Hi, Shadowflame cameo! I see you!
Generally speaking, in my experience, self-made independent comics fall into at least one of these five categories:

1. Incomprehensible to anyone but the author 
2. Trying to outright copy either Marvel or DC’s characters
3. Weird and “artsy”
4. Of “Meh” quality
5. In-jokey

The Mighty Titan skirts dangerously close to numbers 1 and 2, but impressively manages to avoid both of them. At the beginning, we’re thrust into a world with no explanation which seems to be emulating the DC Universe, but by the end of the issue, the world has established itself as nicely distinct, but with familiar elements of classic DC. Instead of the story's archetypes looking like ripoffs, like many (but not all, I would like to stress) independent super hero universes, the archetypes are nicely familiar, which allows the metaphor to succeed.

Ah, yes, the metaphor; why the book was written. Joe Martino, the author, was diagnosed with cancer, and miraculously survived it. TWICE. The Mighty Titan is his semi-autobiographical, metaphor for the experience “wrapped in a superhero comic.” With that knowledge... I cannot begin to describe what it does for the story. It actually begins to resemble a character study (no pun intended), and I found it quite fascinating as, essentially, the start of the mental and physical trials that something like cancer puts one through.

The ending is a nice twist/cliffhanger, which manages to make me say
“I saw that coming… but I didn’t see that coming.”
It’s a nice feeling, actually. Correct, but still surprised. The twist, though, is merely the first step into the metaphor: We all go through life feeling invincible, until we're struck down.

The next issues will go through the journey of cancer through metaphor, from losing one's invincibility and beyond. I will say that the first issue is somewhat slow to get to the point where the story/metaphor begin, but I will say that the issue is expertly used to introduce us to the world and the status quo. On the whole, though, I'd say the biggest problem with the comic is that if you don't know why it exists, it may seem a bit generic. However, I'm sorry to say that if you didn't get the Kickstarter off the ground, you'll probably never even know this comic exists, which is a darn shame, but it does explain why his reasons for creating The Mighty Titan aren't in the issue itself.

I implore you all to either purchase The Mighty Titan, or at the very least donate to further Kickstarters to continue the series.  Click here to visit JGM's site, for more information, art, and ways to help.

Until next time.

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