Some superheroes seem to have a dynasty behind them. The same powers and persona appear to go on for generation after generation. I used to love the old Batman stories written by Alfred as he imagined what Batman II and Robin II would be like, for example.
Well, The Mantle looks at this possibility in depth, with all kinds of people inheriting the powers of the Mantle. At the same time, however, they gain the same destructive enemy, and he keeps wreaking havoc with whoever this power selects.
Previously in THE MANTLE: “The history of past Mantles is explored and the horror of The Plague’s path of destruction is fully unveiled.”
STILL LIFE IN THIS OLD GENRE YET!
I’m always intrigued when someone comes up with a new take on superheroes. It’s literally been decades since Superman leaped over a tall building, and yet there continue to be fascinating spins on the longjohns folks. This one is racing up my “must read” list each month.
By having a mysterious force choosing who will bear the powers of the hero, Mr. Brisson has set up a very interesting dynamic. I mean, Bruce Wayne as Batman, Clark Kent as Superman, Steve Rogers as Captain America – these folks have proven crucial to their heroic identities. This book, however, goes a very different route in that when the bad guy kills the latest person to have the Mantle, then it transfers to someone else. This keeps The Plague, a hyper-powerful baddie, on the run. At least, it has until now.
The first issue ended with an amazing cliffhanger that even now, two issues later, I can’t bring myself to spoil. Let’s just say that the Mantle continues its work, and we’re finding out how different people respond to the acquisition of powers.
When this issue starts out, we see the current holder of the Mantle talking with a previous one, and this is a great vehicle to explore the history of the powers over the past several decades. I loved that the original heroes were very much like those in the comics of the ‘50s, and as time continues on, the powers seem to keep up with the times.
Strong pacing, intriguing characters and plenty of surprises make Brisson’s scripting engaging, and I never know what’s going to happen next, something I love in a good comic!
THE ART CHANGES WITH THE SCRIPT EXCEPTIONALLY WELL
As I mentioned, the heroes change from time period to time period in this story. This issue sees the art and coloring from Level and Boyd shifting with the story quite well. When we see the “first” of the heroes, his costume and setting are perfect for the early superhero storytelling from those years gone by. As the powers transfer from person to person, the art team moves from decade to decade with them, and I loved seeing the various art styles of the past in this title. The choice of colors really helped a lot with this!
This issue is laced with interaction between two different Mantle wearers, and when they interact, the coloring is very different, clearly defining what’s going on. (More than that, I won’t say at this point!)
All these different artistic choices help keep the story flowing as well as keeping us interested in the story as it moves along. I think both script and art augment each other particularly well!
THE BOTTOM LINE: Keeping Our Attention Well
I do want to mention that Mr. Brisson not only writes the script, he also provides the lettering, which I think is a great and rare thing in comics these days. It all just seems to flow very well, pulling us in and along as the story progresses.
Always expect the unexpected, and that includes the fourth issue next month. The description of that title says that a character will seek the advice of a three-story tall talking cat. Now THAT I have to read!
It’s a great book, one I’m glad I had the chance to jump on early. If you haven’t read this title yet, I recommend you check your local shops. If you can’t find #1 or #2 that way, I’d check out digital outlets so you can catch up and move forward with this fascinating comic!
To learn more about this title and Mr. Brisson’s other work, be sure to listen to Episode #176 of my Wayne’s Comics Podcast when I spoke with him about The Mantle. Don’t miss it!
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