Justifiably, fanboys and girls often glance sideways with when they see a celebrity’s name stamped boldy on a cover in their LCS. Lately, actors and musos have flocked to create, or sometimes, “create” comics in ways they never have before, and you can’t blame their timing, or the publishers who want to capitalise on their pre-assembled audience. It is a business after all.
These celebrities aren’t always particularly aware of modern comics, and sometimes it seems they lend nothing more than their name for some geek cred, but the last fortnight has seen two honest to goodness celebrinerds step up to the plate. UK talk show host Jonathan Ross, aka Wossy, released Turf last week from Image Comics. I must say it was a relief to see the “Created and written by” credit and know that it wasn’t mere hyperbole. As fellow writer Mark Millar explains in his afterword, Ross is a real fan of comics who knows his stuff and isn’t afraid to use his fame as a platform to share the inherent greatness of sequential art. Turf #1, with fitting art by Tommy Lee Edwards, is more wordy than a Bendis script, but its tale of old school gangsters in the age of Prohibition, with a smattering of vamps and aliens, is a worthy debut.
Now, we’re spoiled with Cold Space #1 from the ambitious BOOM! Studios. C0-created and written by actor Samuel L. Jackson, he probably had less to do with this output than Ross had with his vision, but at least we know Jackson has comic book cred too. Perhaps he’s not in the exact same boat as Ross, but he’s ceratinly in the same river. Jackson has appeared in The Spirit and Iron Man, and the Ultimate version of Nick Fury is based on him. Cold Space is created by Jackson and Eric Calderon, the same duo responsible for the animated series Afro Samurai. So, it’s off to a good start then.
The background of Cold Space is not a far off world, so to speak. There’s no talking robots and exotic alien races, so far. It begins with Mulberry’s (Jackson’s comics doppelganger) ship fleeing four enemies in the year 4012, before being boarded by cops he’s obviously dealt with before. After some swift moves, and swifter talk, Mulberry gives the aggravated officers the (pardon the pun) shaft, and leaves with a smirk on his face. However, that doesn’t last long, as Mulberry’s stolen ship explodes and crashes on a planet filled with Wild West-like lowlifes.
From the solicitation info it’s clear that Mulberry soon becomes caught in the middle of a civil war on the small mining town he’s stuck on, and rather than choosing sides, he chooses to make a profit. That’s an interesting premise, but one that doesn’t get revealed in this first issue. We are introduced to Mario Ward (who reminds me of Lenny form Motorhead) and his crew, and are given glimpses of the other gangs in this desolate place, but that’s about it for now. This has a great beginning, (even if it takes a page or two to realise the text boxes aren’t captions, but rather off-panel dialogue) with its succinct action filled introduction of Mulberry, and I do want to see more of him. There’s no real surprises here, but I have a feeling the true ‘meat’ of the story is yet to come. It’s a great entry point for comics newbies and Jeremy Rock’s crisp approach to art is reflected in its accessible story structure. How Mulberry interacts with the dodgy residents of El Matador, yet still remains a sympathetic main character, will be interesting to see.
Rock’s visuals are clean and though there’s no Bryan Hitch level of realism, the look of Jackson still shines through Mulberry’s appearance, and even his speech at times. The costume and character design is varied, making the cast easily recognisable, and they obviously have great tailors and dry-cleaners as they look immaculate for a community inhabiting a dusty mining town. I wasn’t expecting an almost cartoon approach to the look of this series, knowing its starting point of Jackson as a sci-fi criminal, but the lack of harsh language and bloodletting is actually quite refreshing, and will hopefully encourage older kids, as well as curious fanboys, to give this series the look it deserves.