Freedom Formula #1 Review

Radical Comics are the newest publisher on the comics market, and so far, they seem to be making waves. They have wisely partnered with the Singapore based Imaginary Friends Studios to bring in the next level of gifted creators. However, as unveiled at July’s Comic-Con, they’ll also be working with such well known names as writer Steve Niles, and director John Woo is interested in a film adaptation of their Western series, Caliber. They also have projects involving Weta Workshop (the Lord of the Rings SFX gurus) and painters Luis Royo and Jim Steranko.

After reading the first issues of both Hercules and Caliber and being somewhat underwhelmed, I wasn’t expecting much from Freedom Formula. Thankfully, I was wrong. A tonal departure from those books, this is a futuristic adventure set post world war (isn’t every futuristic tale?) where the sport of high speed competition in hi-tech bikes (VXs) rules the roost.

Courier driver Zee becomes embroiled in the race as the competitors pass through his home in the Wastelands. After hiding as a pit crew member he visits the mammoth city of Los Petropolis and gets embroiled in another accident waiting to happen, namely his death.

Subtitled Ghost of the Wasteland, this five issue mini-series shows the most promise of all Radical’s books and I wouldn’t be surprised if it it eventually becomes an ongoing. There are facets that we’ve seen before – the corporations controlling society, the division between the “norms” and the “eugenes” (genetically engineered), the popular sport of advanced racing, but with Zee’s secrets about his late father (for whom he’s delivering a mysterious package) and enough hints of more menace to appear Freedom Formula may just rise above typical sci-fi fare.

What truly makes this book rise above, however, is the art. It’s simply amazing. With an organically creepy look reminiscent of Jae Lee (Hellshock, Dark Tower) and beautifully designed pages in the vein of Christian Gossett (Red Star), Chester Ocampo and Kai stamp a very appealing visual style on the pages of this book. Each page is different enough, but not wildly so. Writer Edmund Shen is wise enough to free the pages of verbose dialogue and unnecessary exposition and lets the pages speak for themselves. After adapting Yoshitako Amano’s Mateki: The Magic Flute, he knows when to humbly let great art do it’s thing. And there’s plenty for it to do. From the intro of the racers under the bright lights, to the sparse darkness of the Wastelands, to the unveiling of Los Petropolis, your reaction will be the same as Zee’s, namely, “Whoa.” Some, if not most of that can also be attributed to Mr B (apparently it’s a prerequisite that all of Radical’s artists have names like rappers), the visual effects designer who knows when to bathe the art in light and when to be subdued. This a good package and if this standard is maintained (Radical are not flooding the market just yet) they could develop into comics’ next big thing. Director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) has just picked this up for a feature film at some point, so now’s the time to get in on the ground floor and see this title for yourself before Singer puts all the characters in leather and removes the fun. If you’re still not convinced, check out the nifty trailer for the series below.

Dave Sim: Zombie Mocker

Cerberus creator Dave Sim is a legend of independent comics. He guided Cerberus the Aardvarks’ genre bending adventures from 1977 to 2004 single handedly and fought for creator’s right along the way. His latest project is entirely different. Glamourpuss is a look at the history of fashion magazines as well as photo realism in comics. Sort of. It’s unlike anything else on the stands. My respect goes out to anyone that can do what they love for so long, and he’s received equal parts adoration and hatred over his controversial views on feminism and religion over the years, but he keeps on pressing on. Glamourpuss #2 has a great feature on the back cover poking fun of all the zombie craziness that Marvel have focused on in various mini-series and x-overs in the last 2 years. Read it and laugh, because the undead are funny, unless they’re eating your loved one’s brains.

Dave Sim’s blog (complete with pretty pics)