Jupiter Jet #1
Writers: Jason Inman & Ashley Victoria Robinson
Artists: Ben Matsuya (main story)/Jorge Corona (“The Origin of the Jetpack, Part One”)
Colors: Mara Jayne Carpenter
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover artists: Ben Matusya (two covers) & Jonboy Meyers
Editor: Nicole D’Andria
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US
This comic book came to my attention because my local shop announced it would be hosting a signing event later this month with the writers. As a customer and comics enthusiast who wants to support the only comic shop in the area, I plunked my cash down for a copy of the first issue. I’m quite pleased that I did, because I discovered a delightfully entertaining, all-ages comic. We’ve seen a rise in this sort of comic in recent years, and I hope we see more, because it’s this sort of fare that can expand the medium’s audience. Jupiter Jet is a celebration of pluck and pop culture, and of the wonder and imagination that’s inherent in science and engineering. There’s enough of an air of mystery in the story to keep the reader coming back for more, and a couple of young characters whose energy and enthusiasm is infectious.
Orphaned after the mysterious death of their father, 16-year-old Jacky and her kid brother Chuck are doing their best to keep the family repair shop in Olympic Heights going, especially in light of the crushing and intimidating pressure from an underworld figure intent on collecting a debt. Jacky thinks the answer to their woes is the jetpack that turned up around the time their father died, and some skybound heists from criminals might just keep the shop afloat — after some needy neighbors get a little helping hand as well.
It’s pretty clear from the tone of the art in the main story that the team here was aiming for a look that mirrored the style of Erica Henderson; it’s not surprising, as Jupiter Jet boasts the same sort of joyful and irreverent tone as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, the Marvel title for which Henderson is best known. Ben Matsuya isn’t just aping her style here, though. I really love the classic backdrops he develops for Olympic Heights, and the movement of the sky-soaring heroine is exciting and engrossing. The artist falters slightly at times; there are times when the character designs are rendered a little consistently, and when he doesn’t quite get the anatomy and proportions of the figures quite right. But overall, he demonstrates some strong comics chops that will likely only get better the more he practises his craft.
I also appreciated the work of Jorge Corona on the two-page backup story. His more elongated and angular figures are much different than the softer style Matsuya employs in the main story, but they boast the same kind of energy.
Inman and Robinson’s script boasts the same kind of exuberance we find in the artwork, and they convey a lot of personality with those words as well. Part of the problem here is that they endeavor to convey a little too much information at the same time. The exposition isn’t always woven seamlessly into the dialogue, making it a little awkward at times. At the same time, I’m pleased the writers didn’t try to convey every bit of detail they could; they leave a lot of room for mystery. The origin of the jetpack, the mysterious fate of their father… these are elements that whet the reader’s appetite for more. The sky-faring action alone could have been enough to amuse the audience, but the larger plot definitely piqued my interest. I also liked that the script remains silent on other elements, like how Chuck got to be such a prodigy, for example. It doesn’t matter. It’s easy for the audience to just accept and enjoy it, and delve into the adventure and wonder.
Jupiter Jet definitely shows its influences on its sleeve. The Rocketeer riff is clear, but there’s also a Dick Tracy vibe at play, and vintage sci-fi and pulp elements as well. Honestly, the precocious, independent nature of the title character reminded me of Anne of Green Gables, oddly enough. Think of Anne Shirley with a jetpack, and you’ll have a strong sense of what to expect from this comic book.
Given the adventurous, all-ages quality of the storytelling and the use of a strong female protagonist, I initially thought this was published by Boom! Studios, which has offered comparable fare such as Lumberjanes and Goldie Vance. But Action Lab Entertainment steps up with another great romp of a comic that will appeal to a wide array of readers. It’s definitely designed to appeal to a younger audience, but it’s well crafted enough to entertain older folks like me as well. 7/10