Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review: Hell Yeah #1

Potential Energy

  Hell Yeah #1 opens with a right cross to the face, sort of.  Page one, panel one depicts said punch to said head, but it’s what’s opposite to that 'in your face' image that deserves notice as well; a white rectangle -- a blank -- with 'Previously ...' set atop it, a ballsy beginning and wholly redundant. As hasty as it is to say (about any first issue) Hell Yeah #1 sugars off to this open space -- all potential, kinetic cross or not.
  The staging of the opening act is cinematic with two text panels (white letters set into a black background) that call back (previously?) to that blank space on the inside cover.  The first states: 'Portland, Oregon Right Now,' the other (much larger) reads: 'Image Comics Presents.'  Granted a title card that establishes a story’s setting is a necessary evil, so, why give the book’s publisher the extra shout out? Why the added tell in lieu of a show? This opening chapter ends in a two-page splash as the bludgeoner at the beginning becomes the bludgeoned. 'Ka-Pow, Asshole' says the spikey haired victor, the comic’s title burns in the background. It would be a hell of an opening for an action flick, kind of like a comic book.
  Writer Joe Keatinge sells this story with attitude, attitude attitude. The character design for the protagonist, Ben Day, cops John Lydon’s Public image Limited look complete with short-sleeved collared shirt, an action figure with punk appeal. Hell Yeah reads big, artist Andre Szymanowicz gets to work on expansive canvases --  of the comics thirty-two pages only one is divided into seven panels and most pages average only three or four panels. It may seem like a small thing, but this kind of open space allows Szymanowicz to draw larger-than-life characters, 'super' heroes, in other words. None of the characters in this story are squeezed into the panels; instead, they roam free, like deities, queens of the scene and cocks of the walk.
  Keatinge breathes new life into the concept of a deus ex machina asking: what’s the problem in a world without problems?  Imagine.  As told in a black-and-white sequence, supermen (and women) came from out of nowhere and 'our world was forever changed … They promised a better tomorrow.  They delivered.' To drive the point home, Keatinge and company 'steal from one of the masters' to create their own spark of life.  This story will (pun intended) live or die on how deep this particular rabbit’s hole goes. 'The only limit is our imagination.' says the un-named superman savior; the same goes for the creators of Hell Yeah.
  Great art inspires great art. The creative team behind Image Comics Hell Yeah is inspired, yet their work does not inspire … yet. One could speculate that when Keatinge and Szymanowicz set out to midwife Hell Yeah into being, they knew what they wanted to create, what muses to invoke and where to apply the stimulus, but it remains to be seen if either reckoned their creation could stand on its own. In Hell Yeah the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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