I miss John Ritter. For those of you who don’t know who he was, John Ritter was an actor who largely appeared in television sitcoms and comedies, though he did have a modest film career. He didn’t have any great claim to fame, but – in just about every appearance – he always just played a likeable guy. An average Joe. The everyman. Early in his career, he played an actor playing a superhero; the film was called HERO AT LARGE, and, in the piece, Ritter was a struggling actor who – one night while wearing home his costume from work – actually foils a convenience store robbery. Suddenly, everyone in the news wants to talk about Captain Avenger! Sure, it was some fairly predictable fluff, and it all ends very predictably ‘happy ever after,’ but there’s something to be said for those sentiments regarding superheroes even in this less-gilded day and age.
Dark Horse is heading in the exact opposite direction with FURIOUS #1. It’s the real-world tale of a real-world girl who finds herself a real-world superhero, and, for my tastes, the emphasis is definitely on “real” and less on “hero.”
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Cadence Lark is a young woman who finds herself gifted with superhuman abilities. Hoping to do something noble, Cadence decides she’s going to use her powers only for good – to help right the various wrongs she sees going on in the world around her. And that’s probably a good decision, especially given the fact that her own private universe seems to be a living nightmare!
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: first issues are a tough sell. There are so many variables that need to be put into motion in order for a book to have a decent shot. A writer has to introduce the players. An entire world needs to be created. There are things like ‘theme’ and ‘narrative’ and ‘narrative focus’ which all require some measure of attention. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that your lead – your main character – has to be fully fleshed out and brought to life in as effective yet expedient manner possible. And all of this is going on while you have readers reading!
Despite its first issue jitters, FURIOUS is a solid read, though I’m a bit unclear as to what audience is being sought here. For example, Cadence lives the life of the young woman in today’s modern world; and, as such, scribe Bryan J.L. Glass chooses to make her a modern creation, complete with all of the psychological shortcomings that come with the package. It isn’t enough to worry about herself, she has to worry about every little thing she does. And if that isn’t enough, there’s this whole ‘hero’ thing that puts a damper on her otherwise good nature. She can’t help but get snarky with the polite grocery clerk who’s only trying to help lighten her heavy load, but, by the time she’s walking from the mart back home, she can’t help but ponder his attractiveness without some additional snark at herself and him for noticing her.
See, there’s a reason men are men and woman aren’t, and, as a man, I don’t know that I’d honestly want to spend a whole lot of time inside the head of Cadence Lark. It isn’t a bad place to be; she’s clearly been crafted with a sense of responsibility and some compassion for her fellow men and women … but second-guessing has a limit. If Glass pushes FURIOUS beyond these considerations in the second issue, then I’ll reserve judgment going forward – she’ll develop more as a fully-embodied person and not just a sometimes snarky introvert who spends way too much time in her head to do herself any good. If he doesn’t, however, then this’ll be a book I quickly sacrifice in pursuit of other things.
FURIOUS #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Bryan J.L. Glass; the art is provided by Victor Santos (a nice job, by the way, if not a bit derivative of stuff I’ve seen elsewhere); with lettering by Nate Piekos of Blambot. With a cover price of $3.99 an issue, that’s not all that bad, but it’d also encourage me to nudge this book from the purchase rotation if it goes in the direction this first issue did.
(MODESTLY) RECOMMENDED. I doubt that FURIOUS will be for everyone. Who knows? It might end up being pretty divisive. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily; it might bring more folks into the fold if for no other reason than to see what everyone’s talking about. Me, I tend to prefer my heroes playing out their lives as heroes; I’m okay with a limited amount of introspection, but when introspection becomes the driving force behind the story being told, I’m more inclined to look away (in the short term) and wait for the big finish (in the long run) before saying anything. Who wants to spend all day in the real world – with real world issues and real world problems – only to try to escape them at night within the pages of a comic book … only to find the real world still waiting for you? Granted, it helps when Furious’s real world is worse than your won, but you get the point.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with an advance reading copy of FURIOUS #1 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.