Review – Mantle #1 (Image Comics)


Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Ed Brisson

Artist: Brian Level, Jordan Boyd

Release Date: 13th May, 2015.

Outside of the Big Two, super-hero comics are always something of a gamble – Marvel and DC have monopolised that market so hard that there may not be a single human being left in the world who doesn’t immediately associate the word ‘superhero’ with a character from one or t’other. It takes something properly special to break through that wall made of solid money, and it’s always a little nerve-wracking to be presented with another crack at that particular whip.

Telling the story of a deadbeat and his girlfriend, who – after ingesting perhaps one too many magic mushrooms – ostensibly hallucinates that he gets struck by some kind of energy surge. Shortly after that, he’s visited by some burly-looking folk who claim to be bona-fide superheroes, who let him know that hey! He’s a superhero too! Cue squaring up with his nemesis.

The art is perfectly serviceable – only occasionally flirting with doing something interesting just before the end of the book where there’s a beautifully grim panel involving a fair amount of viscera that’ll set off your ‘ewww!’ reflex. Everywhere else, it’s a little too muted to really pop off the page as you might like, though it’s still entirely competent from a storytelling standpoint.

The writing is a bit too self-aware for its own good. There’s only so many ‘this is a superhero story and ho, ho, isn’t that ridiculous?’ quips that one can take in good humour before you start asking yourself whether or not the writers are taking the piss out of you for reading it. Thankfully, Brisson pulls a rather neat late-game trope-flip that indicates that he’s with us and not against us, like he’s precisely aware of how self-aware the characters are, in Inception-grade meta-text. Or to put it simply – it’s got a great twist at the end that’ll make you like it a lot more than it initially lets on.

In terms of ongoing intrigue, I can’t help get the feeling that Brisson’s played his best card first and that it’s downhill from here – quite what he can do after that twist to maintain your attention is anyone’s guess, and whilst I’ll be delighted to be proven wrong, I can’t help but foresee an inexorably downhill slide from here. Certainly worth a look as a self-contained vignette if you’re interested in quite what the change-up is, but otherwise, it’s perhaps not worth getting invested just yet.

Rating: 3/5.

The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
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