Are you ready meet the newest hero in town, Prince Virtue? Your Major Spoilers review of Riveting Comics Narratives #1 from Cackle’N Comics awaits!
Writer: Ryan Knight
Penciler: Ryan Knight
Inker: Ryan Knight
Colorist: Ryan Knight
Letterer: Ryan Knight
Publisher: Cackle’N Comics
Cover Price: 99 Cents
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Previously in Riveting Comics Narratives: Heroic fiction has been around for centuries, with the likes of Ivanhoe, King Arthur and the Scarlet Pimpernel punching evil wherever it raises its shrouded head in agony… Wait, how did that sentence begin? Anyhoodles, in 1938, two young boys from Cleveland created an entire sub-culture by codifying and crystallizing all those heroic fiction tropes into one man, Superman! And now, eighty-plus years later, we’re ready to do it again!
MEANWHILE, IN 1939
I wasn’t kidding about that, either, as this issue opens with the fictional cover of Aristocrat Comics #3, dated 1939, which evokes both Action Comics #1 and Whiz Comics #2, the first appearance of Captain Marvel. After a brief origin (rocketed to Earth, found by young parents, abandoned by terrified parents and adopted by a secret sect of Knights Templar) we are thrown right into Prince Virtue’s world. Narration is provided with Worthington Richerford, who for some reason appears in black-and-white, who explains how P.V. grew to become a heroic figure. We get the requisite car-throwing sequence, a little of the classic swift and blinding super-violence, and an amusing sequence where damsel-in-distress Wynnora Way refuses to kiss the hero in gratitude. A dejected Prince Virtue falls in with a young paperboy who shows him how to build a secret identity with a fake mustache and a blue toupee, and Prince Virtue gets a job as a telephone operator, which I’m going to take as a shoutout to me. We also meet his greatest foe, the nefarious Doctor Eyezenberg, and get a faceful of Prince Virtue’s trademark Nuclear Radaiation Vision!
It… goes badly for the city.
TONGUE-IN-CHEEK TRIBUTE TO SIEGEL, SHUSTER, BECK & MORE
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this first issue, but I am happy to say that I was amused from the very first pages. Knight’s story makes light of a number of Golden Age comic tropes, and while some of the jokes are familiar, none of them are stale or openly derivative. When I realized that Virtue was wearing a blue hairpiece in his secret identity, I laughed, and when Wynnora immediately recognizes him and asks “Are you Prince Virtue with a moustache and a bad toupee?”, it was the height of the issue for me. Ryan Knight’s art is very interesting in this issue, with elements that evoke the work of Kyle Baker or Evan Dorkin in certain panels, which makes for interesting satire. The production in this issue is a little uneven, though, with crisp inking in the first couple of chapters and more and more pencil marks showing as the issue went on. The final story in this issue, ‘City In Decline’ feels like is was done in colored pencils and then inked, making for a stark contrast from the first part of the book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (I suspect that this is actually the first Prince Virtue story made, with the rest of the issue being assembled after the fact) but it was a noticeable change.
BOTTOM LINE: CLEVER AND REMARKABLY FUNNY
All in all, though, Riveting Comic Narratives #1 provides a lot of content, humor and satirical silliness for your literal buck, with art that clearly homages the styles of past creators and a story that makes for a fun look at comic books past, earning an above-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Ryan Knight is a creator that I hope we see more from, and while I wonder how long Prince Virtue’s shtick can remain fresh, I have a feeling that the anthology title means that future issues may look at other eras, characters and tropes of comic book history with the same humorous lens, and I hope to see those books when the come out.
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RIVETING COMICS NARRATIVES #1
The humor and references to Golden Age comics were entertaining and the quirky art is a lot of fun. It's well worth your dollar, and I hope to read more from this creator in the future.