Issue #1: Oil (Paint) and Water

More rag dolls greet us on the cover of issue #1. After the villainous reveal last issue, one has to wonder why the Mist’s thugs are patterned after another GA villain? Also of note, Jack is wearing a jolly roger t-shirt. This is the name of the art studio set up by Tony Harris.

This issue begins with a man in black. “The shadowy, shadowy gentleman sighs.” The whole panel screams Victorian: from the furniture in the study to the top hat waiting on a side table. Juxtaposed with this mysterious gentleman are scenes of the chaos going on outside. The Mist and his son have orchestrated a cacophony of crime that only began with the assault on the Knight Family. As the pages progress, we see that this gentleman thinks very little of David’s attempt at being a champion. In a silhouette, long time readers of comics are given a major hint as to his identity. A shadow of a lean man in a top hat would seem to indicate the old Flash villain: The Shade.

This is the second part of the Sins of the Father story arc. The title of the individual issue seems to indicate things which to not mix well or at all. The (paint) is probably a reference to the art museum at the end of the issue.

There’s a lot of pain and anger in these first pages. David has just died, Ted has been attacked, and Jack suffers the loss of his shop. Out of grief, Ted lashes out at Jack for surviving and losing the flight belt that once belonged to Skyman. In this scene, we are also introduced to the O’Dare family. We’ll find out why they’re taking the time and effort to protect Ted Knight later on. Ted’s final words are intended to drive Jack away. He cannot afford to lose another son in one night. He wants Jack to leave the city.

Here’s where Hope O’Dare explains the history and the debt the family feels toward Ted Knight’s Starman. Jack acts like and ass, and Hope calls him on it. Just before she can belt him a good one, we’re interrupted. The Mist contacts Ted directly and lays out his plans for Opal City generally and the Knights specifically. The Mist is very much the arch-villain during this one sided conversation. What’s his plan? Destroy the city. Keep Ted feeling impotent and futile and shamed. Any loot they grab along the way is an added bonus. Orchestrated as this has been, it still smacks of an end game. This isn’t the plan of someone who expects to be around for a while to gloat or fight another day.

Have you ever seen “High Noon?” Gary Cooper’s a marshal looking to retire and settle down with his new wife. Then someone from his past comes looking for him. He comes back from prison and wants to kill Cooper. Everyone tells Cooper to get out of town. Leave; don’t look back. Everyone from the town’s minister to his own wife tell him to turn tail and run. He doesn’t. He can’t. In this issue, we get this scene not once, but twice. It works both times. First, Jack can’t leave; he can’t let the Mist destroy the museum that his mother worked so hard for. At the station, ready to leave town, Jack sees the destruction on the television. He swoops in on the marauders and does an not horribly embarrassing job of it. The bystanders appear to be rallied with hope. The Shade looks on; he knows the score, but he is neither disparaging nor encouraging.

Jack is cool and methodical while dealing with the thugs. He pauses. While he tells us that he won’t be doing this again, that it is a one off deal, the expression Harris draws on Jack’s face tells us something different. There’s an enjoyment here: a satisfaction. Kyle appears and ruins the moment. Jack is forced to flee once again. He is no longer seen as a threat.

Instead of lingering on our burgeoning hero’s fate, we see what the Shade is up to. Apparently he is here to protect the museum also. It should also be pointed out that he has yet to be named properly. The Crepe Street to which the hood refer does not exist in the real world. Presumably, this is an area of Opal. The thugs intend it as a slur…possible homosexual reference to Shade’s effete appearance and style of speaking. The Shade’s reference to Renny Harlin is in regard to the style of movies Harlin is known for: “Die Hard 2”, “Cliffhanger”, “Cleaner”, etc… Finally we have confirmation that he is the Shade of Flash infamy. Speaking of over the top action, that shadow demon is quite something. Interesting that he is merciful to the less braggadocios of the thugs. He also contemplates stealing something for himself while he can. Then he remembers the cardinal rule of his kind: you do not shit where you eat. Remembering this, he does see something small worth picking up, and he departs. He remarks on the potential that Jack he saw (like everyone else, he assumes the worst regarding Jack’s fate). He compares Jack to a “Native American Lawman” that had once protected the city as a champion. Readers of the series now know that this is Scalphunter, Brian Savage. This reference is a nice little seed to blossom later in the series.

We end with the second “High Noon” moment of the book. This is the big turning point for Jack. Whoever he was before, he is something more now. He’s been told to get out of town. Technically he has. Opal burns on the horizon. He’s free and clear. Like Cooper though, Jack cannot leave. He needs to return and finish what he started. Jack can’t abandon Opal or his father. He doesn’t want to do this, but he must.

He’s been twice baptized: once by fire and again by water to become a hero. Not the hero of his father’s day, nor the hero his brother attempted to be. He is a hero who knows what must be done and that he must be the one to do it.

On this last page, there are some interesting things to point out artistically.

1. Another ragdoll image.

2. Who doesn’t love Ren and Stimpy?

3. It’s reasonable to assume that the Mr. Klaw is a reference to the They Might Be Giants song.

4. Obergeist was a brief series created by Dan Jolly and Tony Harris.

I’m tempted to jump the gun here and talk about issue #2. It’s a great issue and the characters I grew to enjoy (Jack, Ted, and Shade) really come into there own in this upcoming third issue. Besides, no one wants to read 2500 words on two issues in one sitting. I’m fooling myself into thinking that anyone really wants to read 1200 words on an issue.

Still, I’d also point out that the text pieces in these two issues so far are interesting looks at the development of the series and Robinson’s interests outside of comics. The piece in issue #0 reads like a manifesto for the series.

Reread them, you might just learn something worth while.

Matt’s comments here are incredibly complete, so I have only a little to add.  I especially like this issue because in many ways The Shade’s journey mirrors Jack’s, and this is where we see each of them do their first heroic deeds.  Neither of them can believe it, but both get swept up in their respective moments.  It’s also a nice touch that the relationship between Ted and Jack is fleshed out a bit more.  When Jack visits his father in the hospital Ted really is angry, but softens up considerably after The Mist’s phone call.

A few random thoughts:

  • The Mist’s reign of terror is referred to as the “Night of Fire,” which seems to be a reference to Devil’s Night in Detroit.
  • In the graffiti on the last page there is a reference to “Gaijin,” certainly a reference to Gaijin Studios, home of Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze, Laura Martin, and (formerly) Tony Harris.
  • James Robinson’s text piece in the back reminded me of this post of Matt’s.

2 Responses to “Issue #1: Oil (Paint) and Water”

  1. 1 Jesse
    February 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    There’s also a few rag dolls in issue 0: on the splash page of Jack’s shop and the second-to-last page.

    Also, on page 11, right underneath Ted turning on the light there’s a small helmet on the bookcase. Does that look familiar? Is Mr. Mind somewhere in his house?

    • 2 Matt
      February 16, 2010 at 8:43 am

      Thanks. I caught the one in Jack’s shop, forgot to mention the graffiti on the second to last page. I’m glad you mention it here. There’s a quote in the background that I had wanted to mention, but I forgot.

      “I’m your huckleberry” is a Val Kilmer’s catchphrase in the movie “Tombstone.” His character, Doc Holliday, is always looking for a fight. In the same way that Tybalt and Mercutio bandy about the phrase “I’m your man” in _Romeo and Juliet_ before a fight, Holliday used his phrase.

      The helmet is unfamiliar to me. Generally, Mr. Mind simply has a small radio around his neck with which he communicates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Responsible Parties


%d bloggers like this: