The Weapon #4 (Platinum Studios/Top Cow Productions)
By Fred Van Lente & Scott Koblish
This highly underrated little miniseries comes to an end. With his holoform projector running out of power, Tommy Zhou will have to rely on his wits and his skill to rescue Megan Dean-Hughes from the cult of the Lin Kuei and retrieve the Scroll of Chi Mastery. Van Lente did a nice job with this story of setting up what appeared to be a rather standard martial arts story (which would have been good enough) and managed to work in a nice twist that turned out to be a genuine surprise. Koblish‘s artwork is fantastic, and the character here is really likeable. This ends the miniseries, but hopefully, the Weapon will be back for round two.
Quick Rating: Very Good
With Roz in the clutches of the Iron Talon, Jack has to make his stand.
Writer: DJ Coffman
Art: DC Coffman
Colors: Jason Embury
Letters: DJ Coffman
Editor: Paul Cibis & Adam Rosenblum
Cover Art: DJ Coffman & Mark Sparacio
Publisher: Platinum Studios/Top Cow
The Iron Talon has Roz, and Jack has to find some way to save her. He delves into the late Hero By Night’s journals, hoping for a clue to help him save her, but the real answer may lie within himself.
Coffman has done two important things this issue – he’s presented us with the origins of the Iron Talon and Hero By Night, and he’s given us a near-flawless development to show how an average Joe like Jack can find it in himself to at least try to be a hero… and the determination Coffman packs into the last page is enough to make you believe he might actually succeed.
The artwork is still impressive – I really enjoy Coffman’s style applied to this sort of timeless superhero story. As good as the interior art is, though, the cover just plain blows me away. Click on the image here for a bigger version so you can see how great a piece of art this is, with a painted quality that gives it a feeling of realism while still being true to the world that Coffman has created.
I’m really sorry that there’s only one issue left in this series. Yes, I know there’s a webcomic I can visit, but I want an ongoing. Are you listening, Platinum? This book is great. Give us more.
The Weapon #3 (Platinum Studios/Top Cow Productions)
By Fred Van Lente & Scott Koblish
Here’s one you’re probably not reading — The Weapon has proven to be a quite satisfying little kung-fu/superhero romp. Tommy Zhou’s invention of a device that can create weapons out of solid holograms has gotten him in deeper than he expected. He and his partner, Megan, wound up on a quest for the ancient scrolls of an order of assassins, she’s been kidnapped, and Tommy has to recover the scrolls before his enemies. This book really is a lot of fun — equal parts Indiana Jones adventure and Jackie Chan-like king-fu action with a heavy dose of superheroics thrown in for good measure. Van Lente also lets us in on one crucial factoid that Tommy, apparently, has missed, but will likely make things pretty darn difficult for him in the final issue of this miniseries. The current Iron Fist series is getting a lot of praise, but for fans of a more old-fashioned martial arts comic, this is really the place they should be looking.
Quick Rating: Great
What do you do with a long-lost hero’s secret lair?
Writer: D.J. Coffman
Art: D.J. Coffman
Colors: Jason Embury
Letters: D.J. Coffman
Editor: Paul Cibis & Jim McLauchlin
Cover Art: D.J. Coffman
Publisher: Platinum Studios Comics
The winner of the 2006 Comic Book Challenge takes flight in his own miniseries. D.J. Coffman’s Hero By Night is a clever, entertaining new take on the superhero genre, and one well worth the read for anyone who wants a superhero story that leaves room for some fun instead of miring in the grim and gritty.
Fifty years ago, the high-flying superhero called Hero By Night died in battle with his arch-enemy, the Iron Talon. Now, a young man named Jack King has taken a job as building superintendent of an apartment complex in his town. While doing some renovations in the basement, Jack finds a secret cache seemingly left behind by the lost hero – and what he does with it is unexpected, unique, and probably a lot more realistic than most such stories.
Jack is a pretty unique character, and he’s surrounded by a strong – if not entirely unique – cast. He’s got the overbearing father, the friend with the unrequited crush, the diner owner that turns out to be a handy source of information… right off the bat Coffman has established everything we need to grasp this world and the character in it. He also gives us a nice blend between the comedic and the serious superhero stuff, which is perfect for his art style. He’s got a lighter style, not hyperdetailed but instead fitting in with what you’d think of as being an “animated” style – and that’s a good thing. Somehow, using that style makes characters like the Iron Talon seem archetypal instead of derivative.
Real innovation in the superhero genre is hard to come by. It seems like every concept has been hit upon, every possible idea for a character has been covered. I think the future of superhero innovation, at least for the forseeable future, is going to come from books like this – creators who take familiar elements and characters that would seem like they’ve been done before and find whole new angles, new stories to tell that haven’t been done before. (Look at titles like Super*Teen Topia or Doctor Blink, Superhero Shrink.) Coffman gives us a really good addition to books like this. He may not be the first creator in recent years to try to tackle superheroes this way, but based on his first issue, he may indeed be one of the best. In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a superhero comic that isn’t caught up in enormous, world-altering storylines but just lets you enjoy it on its own merits, this is the one to pick up. Enjoy it you will.