Ever want a life of something more? Jack Avarice dreams of being an international man of mystery, and if he plays his cards right, he may just get what he wished for.

Writer: Chris Madden
Artist: Chris Madden
Colorist: Chris Madden
Letterer: Yup, Chris Madden
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99


Jack Avarice is that average schmuck you see in the mirror every day. Sure, he may be thinner than you, and be better looking than you, and he probably has a lot more money than you. Heck, now that you think about it, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy after all. No student loans that we know of, no kids, no mortgage…. man, Jack Avarice is living the life… He even wakes up in interesting places – like Hawaii, where his drinking binge has landed him across the table from a large Russian sailor. The two have been swapping stories, but when it comes for Jack to really dish the details, Jack reveals he’s not really anyone – just a regular guy who has always dreamed of a life of adventure.

During the duo’s discussion, the story is intercut with the thrilling adventures of The Fox, an international man of mystery, who is in the process of escaping/destroying a terrorist cell in Cuba. The Fox is smart, suave, kills the bad guys, and gets the hot, hot sniper (her name is Snypra – get it?) in the end. The adventure is full of stereotypical villains, high-tech gadgetry, and thrills and chills one expects to see in an over the top Bond film. There’s a sense that the adventures of The Fox are playing out in Jack Avarice’s head, and Chris Madden almost gets the reader believing it, until The Fox bursts into Jack’s bar, dies in his arms and tells him to carry out the mission.

I will say this was a fun first issue. There are times when the jokes are groan inducing, and the puns are the worst kind, but overall the sense of fun and adventure explode all over the page. The pacing is great, and the build, when you see it coming, is timed perfectly for the issue’s cliffhanger. There wasn’t anything really wrong with the story, but I can see how this isn’t going to be for everyone. I’m interested in seeing how this story plays out, and I won’t have to wait long, as the second issue arrives next week.


On the surface the art is perfect for this book. While Jack’s drunken discussion with his Soviet friend continues to get more and more insane, so does the art. I don’t know if it is intentional, or if Madden started running into deadline issues, but about halfway through the rough pencils look like they are peaking through into the final product, and what started out cartoony and cool looking, as turned into an exploration of the artist’s style. When the art is crisp and clean, everything looks wonderful. The colors pop off the page, and this issue is a great example of digital coloring done right.

In addition to the art getting weird in places, the other thing that could be fine tuned are the page layouts. Not everything has to be at an angle, and the panels don’t all need a different size, shape, or style. At times there is a feeling of experimentation going on, which is fine, and the times when the angled panels are used are used correctly, but there didn’t appear to be a consistent style running throughout the issue.

Chris Madden does need to be given credit for all the work he has done on this book. It’s clear he is a big J. Scott Campbell and Danger Girl fan, and the art in this book shows that love in every panel.


Jack Avarice is The Courier #1 is a month long serial for IDW Publishing. Each week a new chapter, and each week, the story of Jack will continue to play out. It’s probably a good idea the company is trying to get this series out over the course of a month instead a monthly series, as I have a feeling that five months down the road, most people will have forgotten this series exists.

Even as a weekly, Jack Avarice is a hard sell. It’s got that weird bit of humor and action that made Danger Girl a hit, so this could end up being a sleeper hit. The art starts off strong, but then turns messy midway through the book, which was a bit of a turn-off. Overall, this book is something different and worth checking out if you are already bored with the superhero relaunches, renumbering, and reboots. I enjoyed the story, and give Jack Avarice is The Courier #1 is worthy of 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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