“Love Jones and Headphones”
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Selina Espiritu
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover artist: Michelle Wong
Editor: Jasmine Amiri
Publisher: Lion Forge
Price: $3.99 US
In some ways, Lion Forge reminds me of Valiant of the 1990s when it comes to comics publishing. It’s building a shared super-hero universe and offering something a bit different from its better-known brethren, Marvel and DC. As such, I’m always a bit curious when it launches a new title, so I decided to peruse the pages of Quincredible. Writer Rodney Barnes offers up a different perspective on America than we’re accustomed to in mainstream super-hero comics, and that interests me significantly. Unfortunately, the genre elements introduced here are derivative at best and rather uninteresting at worst.
In a lot of ways, Quin is a typical teenager. He really hasn’t got a strong sense of who he is or what he wants to be, he’s smitten with a girl but is scared to tell her how he feels, and he has to contend with some neighborhood bullies from time to time. But what sets Quin apart, unbeknownst to those around him, is the fact he’s invulnerable, transformed by a piece of debris from space, part of a meteor shower that wreaked havoc on New Orleans, a city that was still recovering from the devastation of hurricane Katrina and subsequent government neglect.
Michelle Wong’s cover image reminds me of Erica (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) Henderson’s story, which suits the youthful and idealistic energy of the script. Selina Espiritu’s interior art also evokes an easy comparison to Henderson’s work… at times. At others, it looks much different, less cartoony, but with a more realistic but oddly distorted look. The teenage characters really don’t look all that different from the adult players in the story, and I wish there was a more youthful look to distinguish those characters. The pivotal scene in the book — the clash between members of the community and a rather overzealous police force — lacked clarity, and we didn’t get the sense of chaos and conflict from it to reinforce the central tension in the story.
One of the biggest shortcomings of this opening chapter is how much I agree with Quin: invulnerability does seem like a rather boring, passive super-power. I’m sure Barnes will convince me otherwise, but he doesn’t make that argument here (at least not successfully). I also didn’t care for the dynamic in Quin’s “relationship” with Brittany. The writer doesn’t really give us a reason for the protagonist’s adoration of his potential love interest, and to make matters worse, she doesn’t come off as all that likeable, given the way she treats him in their limited interaction.
Fortunately, the socio-political elements of the story are incredibly relevant and interesting. I wanted more of that. I’m curious about the charismatic Dr. Davis and want to see this idealistic and idealized character fleshed out further. Barnes’ exploration of police excesses is topical, yes, but he approaches it from an interesting perspective. He doesn’t completely demonize the men abusing their authority. He suggests that in the context of a world with super-heroes, the exercising of their policing powers might flow from a sense of frustration and effort to recapture some respect. It’s wrong-headed, of course, but with the suggestion of root causes of the problems comes the potential for finding solutions. There’s every sign that these are the ideas and themes Barnes plans to examine in Quincredible, and therein lies the central appeal and identity of this title. 6/10