Before Spider-Man, before the Fantastic Four, before even Captain America, Marvel was creating superheroes. Sure, the publisher went by Timely rather than Marvel, but it had costumed heroes — in spades. Some, like Namor, Ka-Zar and the Human Torch, were dusted off years later as memorable guest stars in other books or for trivial flashback appearances, but these veterans of the publisher’s first experiments in the superhero genre are largely forgotten anecdotes in the publisher’s path to greatness. For some, it’s unfortunate — but for others, it’s perhaps for the best.
There are heroes of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s that didn’t fare as well as say Captain America; some have never been seen again. We’ve yet to see the return of The Blazing Skull, The Blonde Phantom or even The Fighting Hobo (A hero as knowledgeable about the works of Shakespeare as he was about cleaning a catfish.) These heroes have been discarded into the stories of legends past. So, how would a legend feel about being barely remembered at all? To be considered as just a myth or a fable? Whatever Happened to the Archetype from Insane Comics deals with this subject wonderfully well. Christopher Quin, is a long-time resident of the Cherry Blossom Residential Home. In his younger days he crashed landed from a faraway planet and became a superhero. Quin tells his life story to a mystery visitor and attempts to convince him of his past exploits under his superhero moniker The Archetype.
I found ‘Whatever happened to The Archetype? ‘ to be a strong demonstration of how powerful a communication tool comics can be. Stu Perrins’ story is stylish and intelligently plotted, Ron Gravelle’s colour-less artwork is powerfully stark but far from simplistic. Working without an assembly-line, dividing the creative process into distinct tasks such as penciller, letterer, or inker, Gravelle has done a fantastic job. Of course an artist is nothing without great dialogue and characters which Perrins provides in spades. I should also give an honorary mention to Shaun Dobie’s work on the cover as too many independent comics take having an impactful cover for granted. This, the first of four issues, is proof that comics can be serious and fun at the same time. I have no doubt that this series will leave its readers wanting more. These guys are definitely ones to look out for in the future.