IDW Publishing 2018
Written by Kevin Burke & Chris Wyatt
Illustrated by Nikos Koutsis
Coloured by Mike Toris
Lettered by Christa Miesner
When high-schooler Jake Armstrong and his two best friends Nathan Park and Ricardo Perez were accidentally exposed to an experimental chemical called Flexarium, they developed incredible powers that would change their lives forever. Sponsored by Rook Unlimited, the biggest Tech Company in the world, Stretch, Wingspan and Omni-mass are now a team of teenage superheroes called…..The Flex Fighters, protecting their hometown, Charter City, from any and every threat. Keeping their identities secret, the three friends try to maintain normal lies, but when the city needs them, the Flex Fighters are there!
Well I was thrilled by the idea that Stretch Armstrong was going to get a comic book treatment until I saw it. Okay I get it it’s kids world you wanna market to the young and here you’ve got three new toys to put on shelves. I really was hoping that this would be based on the toy from my youth yes there is sentimental stuff involved and all that but this is just another repurposed property. Honestly I do get it I’m just disappointed that I was hoping for one thing and getting another.
I had no idea this was a cartoon for Netflix. It makes more sense now and I can see how this is being marketed. Once I started to read the story I was kind of taken by it. Aside from a trio of Plastic Man types who by the way remind me of the Impossibles I found this be a highly entertaining story with a silly origin but standard fare that really was enjoyable. The guys do a great job with the story and I appreciate how it’s got multiple levels to it and how they are able to tell them all pretty much simultaneously AND introduce us to the series.
The way this is structured is fantastic and really goes all out in regards to all-ages as a younger audience and a more seasoned audience will find the same and different ways of enjoying this. So that we open the book with a brief introduction to Jake that is uhm anything but ordinary. I really like the segue into the fight where we get to see the boys and some of their supporting cast. While the dialogue is the usual teenage banter there’s an underlying grown up aspect to it that I found extremely interesting.
The interior artwork here was a huge surprise bonus to me. This doesn’t look like a cartoon, at least nothing that’s modern (this new wave of cartoons are horrid) as the attention to detail and the linework we see is utterly fantastic. Also the backgrounds, flashback sequences, there’s a level of work here that is gorgeous to see. I think getting to show the human body out of proportion is a challenge and it seems well met to me. Then there’s this giant creature they are fighting and I wish that weren’t so cartoony in nature and more realistic because that would’ve made it so much better, okay to me.
There is some really nice solid characterisation happening here. The cast is likeable and has the right kind of potential. That Rook is one factor and that there is a Government Agency, Extreme Hazard (which is a red flag for me based on that name alone), a mentor that doesn’t really want to be in that role and a corporate guy in Mr. Rook who seems to be younger than normal and much more hands on in a I’m not sure if its creepy kind of way. So much raw potential brought to us in one issue that lays the groundwork for what’s to come.
Not what you’ll expect but exactly what you’ll want.