Shadowline/Image Comics 2015
Created, Written & Lettered by Ed Brisson
Created & Illustrated by Brian Level
Ink Assists by Michael Neno
Coloured by Jordan Boyd
I’m really impressed with how different a series this has turned out to be and the concept and execution of it is just fantastic. The idea of the Mantle identity being passed down in this particular manner is really unique and surprisingly interesting to see unfold. I have no idea how many Mantle’s we’ll be seeing in these pages but I’m not sure it matters i like Jen and she seems to be the focal point for the Mantle right now but as we’ve seen that can change very fast.
I also have to admit that the origin we get from O.G. Mantle Hank is not so much an origin as the beginning of the death of the Mantle. So it all starts in 1950 when a high school janitor with a drinking problem when the Mantle chooses to bond with him. We never learn where the Mantle came from or what it really represents or why it even appeared in the first place so there’s plenty of background on the Mantle still ripe for exploration.
On a side note Brian and Jordan completely nail the 1950’s superhero look so much so that I totally want to see them work on a story focusing on that version of the Mantle. Ed too for that matter cause i’d like to see an alcoholic superhero running around in fancy clothes and in that era.
So Hank had eight years as the Mantle before the Plague came to Earth. What happens after that well it’s kind of a double edged sword because while the Plague seems to be here to destroy the Mantle because he sees it as something else than what it is, from what I am seeing he sees it as an infection one to be eradicated. In recanting his story I do believe we saw what it will take for a current Mantle to defeat him and when that happens the Plague will have to be killed to really end the threat otherwise. So look for the clues on the tale he tells and see if you can spot them too.
It was kind of interesting to see Brian and Jordan represent the different Mantle’s over time seeing the styles in the outfits change representing different popular designs in comics and the difference in this waiting area of the afterlife where they are all together. The interior artwork is pretty freaking spectacular and shows a diverse range, good imagination and that they can be both bold and subtle in such dynamic ways.
What Jen decides and the actions she takes is shows some darn good characterization going on. I like the character growth we’re already seeing and while I don’t want to get my hopes up that she’s the one they are looking for it would be nice if she were able to stick around awhile, though with the last page i’m thinking maybe that’s not gonna happen. But hey it’s a comic book and ya know what anything is possible.
Unique, original and full of unanswered questions make this a book I keep coming back to. They’ve managed to create a story and characters that intrigue and that you can get invested in very easily and the interiors well they only amplify those feelings.