That being said, it’s incredibly ironic that the first indie comic I am reviewing is Whatever Happened to The Archetype!?, a love letter to the classic superhero archetype.
The writer, Stu Perrins, is fairly overt in pointing out what kind of journey you’re going to take. The comic opens on an elderly Christopher Quin recounting his heroic past. Quin, now retired, laments how people forgot about his alter ego, the now mythological Archetype. Quin then gives us his origin story. And it’s exactly what you would expect. Quin is an advance alien (who happens to look human) who was an exploratory pilot who crash landed on Earth. Quin finds himself in the midst of World War II and is asked to help stop the madness. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
If this story wasn’t literally called Whatever Happened to The Archetype I would’ve quit reading then and there. However, because Perrins opted to call our hero “The Archetype,” he knows full well that he is calling upon the most classic of superhero origins. The story also features a typical female lead. Stephanie is a beautiful, strong woman that strives be independent, much like Lois Lane or Peggy Carter. Naturally, the archetype hero and archetype strong female begin falling for each other. The story concludes with a classic “To Be Continued…” as another powered being drops out of the sky.
Any comic nerd worth their salt knows the classic devices being used in Perrin’s story. However, I find myself questioning why we’re reading this story. We know all the archetypes…why reread them again? Perrins fails to explain why he’s taken us down this all-too-familiar path in the first issue. In Alan Moore’s The Watchmen, Alan explores classic archetypes but with the added twist that the heroes are incredibly human, flawed and can even be dark. I’m struggling to find that same twist or catch in Whatever Happened to The Archetype!?. I may need to read on to Issue #2 to understand Perrin’s creative direction.
However, if Perrins continues to shovel the same typical superhero story, as a tribute to the archetypal heroes of old, then I’ll spend my money elsewhere. It’s the duty of comics to push the boundary of what is possible. What if Superman, as a baby, landed in Soviet Russia? What if heroes killed for justice? What if our superheroes retired and the replacements sucked? (Superman: Red Son, Punisher, Kingdom Come).
Without that great twist or catch, Perrin’s story is going to lose readers.
The art is pretty good. You can tell that this was labor of love for Ron Gravelle. Gravelle’s attention to detail is astounding. He chose to go a charcoal-grayscale style that you can tell is extremely difficult to master. I especially loved his depictions of outer space and futuristic tech. However, I’m not sure I agree with his choice of hyper-realism when depicting characters. Especially since the classic comics never went that far. This split between prototypical storytelling and unique realistic art is a bit of a clash of theme. But Gravelle is talented, that’s for sure.
Overall, I feel that this series holds a lot of promise if Perrins can find a way to reel people in. If it really is just a tribute to the archetype superhero, then you may find the story to be slow moving and a redundant read. Perhaps Perrins has a master plan in the works, but he better start dropping hints soon, or readers are going to get bored. Remember, it is important for indie comics to push the limits of potential and develop unique stories that DC and Marvel won’t bother with.
It is also the duty of indie comics to proof read their stories. The spelling typo on page 21 is quite glaring and shows that the editor of this story has a ways to go. I’m not sure if Insane Comics is to blame, or if they’re simply distribution. Either way, it’s a bad look.
I’ll give Perrins the benefit of doubt and read the next issue. Perhaps, you’ll do the same. Or if you just really like archetypes and don’t want to step out of the box, then I highly recommend this comic.