Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.
Warning: minor spoilers.
“In here they call me ‘crazy’ Christopher Quin. But not so long ago I was known by another name… The Archetype” – The Archetype
Time to mix things up with an indie comic. I was recommended this one by a friend and thought it was well worth a look. Seeing as Whatever Happened to the Archetype? promised one of those alternate takes on the classic super hero story, looking at what may happen to them once they retire, I couldn’t help myself. This comic was bought to us by:
- Writer – Stu Perrins
- Artist – Ron Gravelle
- Cover – Shaun Dobie
- Publisher – Insane Comics
This story follows Christopher Quin, now living in a nursing home, looking back on his life from his alien home world, to being the world famous super hero the Archetype, to raising a family. It’s a spin on the classic Superman storyline, himself being the archetypal super hero, making the Archetype’s name that much more fitting. Things don’t play out exactly as they did on Krypton though. Quin grows up on his home world of Arcadia and has a close relationship with his Arcadian family and a very different set of events lead to him leaving his home world.
While the plot covers his transformation into the Archetype and many of his adventures, the focus is always his relationships with the other characters and how he copes with the pressures and expectations of being a hero. This is at play even more now as he’s simply dismissed as a crazy old man claiming to be the once iconic hero. Perrins also offers an insight we don’t often see in any super hero media – heroes who sometimes fail, innocent people die and that weighs on them.
Gravelle’s art has a very detailed style throughout the issue with a lot of effort put into expressions and backgrounds. While this lends itself well to the panels setting up a new scene or on large, zoomed out areas during an action scene it does at times distract from conversations and the characters having them. Gravelle’s art has a focus on characters’ facial expressions. This really shows the how they age throughout the issue and portrays real emotion during Quin’s opening narration, however, the most striking and powerful expressions during conversations between characters are often those with less detail to them.
However, all of the above does not address hands in particular. So, my favourite questions, can Gravelle draw hands? Absolutely, throughout the comic they’re drawn doing all manner of things, communicating body language, throwing punches and at a huge range of sizes from a child’s to a gigantic monster’s.
This is a fresh approach to a classic super hero tale. The overarching plot stands out, providing a narrative full of emotion, while dealing with themes often overlooked within the genre. There are two points which felt a little out of place for me though – while it felt very plausible Christopher’s tale would be dismissed as the ramblings of an old man, I couldn’t quite buy into the idea that the Archetype’s existence may be relegated to that of a myth. The other, while addressed later in the story, still stood out to me – I was surprised Quin didn’t wonder how people could read and speak his language right away. As for the art Gravelle’s is of a very high quality, although at times less would have been more.
Stu Perrins will be at True Believers Comic Festival in Cheltenham on February 4th!