Scout’s Honor #1
“The Seven Laws of Doctor Jefferson Hancock”
Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Luca Casalanguida
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover artists: Andy Clarke (regular)/Maan ouse (variant)
Editor: Christina Harrington
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Price: $4.99 US
Smaller publishers appear to be enjoying some growth in support in the last year or two, which is always encouraging, as this is the territory that fosters more comics outside the dominant super-hero genre. And it serves as the training and proving ground for new talents. Unfortunately, the boom in the marketplace outside of Marvel and DC titles appears driven, at least in part, by value speculation. Mind you, there’s some logic to it, since these comics are ordered in lower numbers than their mainstream counterparts. But what’s really important is whether these books pay off in terms of storytelling, both visually and conceptually. The high concept here – the notion of Scouting as the basis of a paramilitary peacekeeping organization in a post-apocalyptic future – is an interesting one. As I read the issue, though, despite the novel premise, the plot beats felt a bit predictable. It’s a fun, action-packed story that explores a patriarchal, exclusionary organization even in a far-flung future, but the twists the writer tries to weave into the story felt more like straight lines.
A couple of centuries after the dissipation of nuclear fallout, the world strives to recover and restore itself, and offering some measure of protection in a new wilderness are the Ranger Scouts, an organization of teenage boy troops led by a Scoutmaster following the tenets of ancient Scouting as though it were a faith. And the greatest of the Ranger Scouts is Kit, whose daring, skill and bravery has saved lives time and time again. But Kit has a secret who has happened upon another secret about the origins of the movement and the final fate of their long, lost, worshipped founder.
Luca Casalanguida’s artwork brings a lot of energy and personality to the story. His style strikes me as something one might see if you were to cross the art of Chris (Fire Power) Samnee and Kieron (Captain America, Lowest Comic Denominator) Dwyer. The artist makes extensive use of worm’s eye views to make the visuals more dynamic, adding movement to the scenes by shifting perspectives radically. I like that Kit and the other Scouts are depicted as younger; their slender frames convey their age nicely. However, Casalanguida’s depiction of the main protagonist changes once the big reveal is made, and that feels like a bit of a cheat. I’d rather see some consistency, because the reader’s knowledge of the character should change appearance.
I have one quibble with the regular cover art, and that’s due to a coloring error, it seems. An early scene in the story features the death of a blond Ranger Scout, and the cover portrays the red-headed Kit as blond, and I briefly thought it was the kid killed in that tumultuous scene. It made for some confusion, though fortunately, it was passing puzzlement.
David Pepose’s high concept is a solid one, and it’s one that ought to attract readers, especially if they’re into such post-apocalyptic, survivalist fiction. The big reveal about Kit struck me as rather obvious, and the surprise at the final moment of the issue didn’t seem like much of a shock either. Still, I did appreciate the writer’s willingness to explore how mainstream organizations that have seemed above reproach in the past typically have their dark sides or can be corrupted to serve the ends of nefarious forces. It’s an important concept to keep in mind, especially since it proves to be true so often – both in fiction and reality. 6/10