Indestructible Stingray #1
Writer: Jeff Marsick (created by Jeff Kline)
Pencils / Inks: Luca Reguzzoni
Colorist: Zac Atkinson
Publisher: Darby Pop (distributed by IDW publishing)
Reviewed by The Professor
"She was a high school swimming star until her mutation was revealed, and Kelly (aka Stingray) was barred from competition. Turned lemons into lemonade by going "pro" as a superhero. Exceptional underwater strength and speed, but only limited "fish" physiology (i.e., she can't breathe H2O)."
Over the years the deconstruction of the super hero genre has become a genre unto itself with countless writers taking a stab at turning the familiar heroic archetypes into post-modern reading experiences. Indestructible Stingray #1 is the latest addition to this pile of vaguely familiar yet twisted superhero stories that add a touch of modern cynicism to the traditional. This comic is actually a spin-off of the main Indestructible series but you don't need to be familiar with that book to read this one.
Deconstruction stories are nothing new with Alan Moore (Watchmen) and Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns) starting the trend back in the 1980's and Mark Waid (Indestructible) and Mark Millar (Nemesis) taking the format to even bleaker heights in the mid-2000's. At this point when I start reading a series in this vein I look to see if anything new is being added. Otherwise these fresh takes on superhero stories can feel as tired as the properties they were created to examine in a new light. Jeff Marsick and Luca Reguzzoni have teamed up to create a world where corporate superheroes bask in the limelight and stand for 'truth, justice, and the cover of US Weekly'.
The protagonist in this tale is a young hero named Stingray who discovers she has a range of aquatic powers due to a genetic mutation. She's quickly recruited to join up with the League Of Defenders - a superhero team that revels in endorsements. Rather than encountering moral vanguards for the public good, these heroes are more focused on getting the best agent and photoshoot. While Kelly struggles to become a hero it's pretty clear that the odds are stacked against her. Her story is left a little threadbare in the first issue but Jeff Marsick drops a few hints that there might be more than meets the eye.
Story-wise Indestructible Stingray #1 is decent but felt a bit derivative of better told stories published in recent years. The twist is rather predictable (Spoiler: some of the heroes are actually fabricating villain encounters to create more press) and you don't need to be a veteran to see it coming. Beyond that Stingray's power set is pretty much that of Aquaman (or Mera... or Dolphin... or any water breathing hero) and she is subject to the same tired 'fish powers' jokes that have grown stale over the years. If they were meant to be funny, they fell rather flat.
Luca Reguzzoni's art keeps this comic together and reminded me a bit of Michael Turner's early work on series like Fathom and Witchblade. Heck I'd even go as far to say that Luca's work inspires a few comparisons to upcoming JLA series scribe Bryan Hitch. Unfortunately Luca doesn't have a ton to work with and while pretty to look at, his characters feel a bit generic as a result. We've seen the underwater bodysuit before...
Unfortunately, I've still yet to read a title from Darby Pop that really impresses me and while I can appreciate the small publisher's drive to create quality comics, they seem often to get lost in the midst of more entertaining fare. I wasn't hooked by this first issue and there are just too many other series to check out to keep me reading this one.
The bottom line: If you are a fan of the superhero 'deconstruction' genre Indestructible Stingray #1 might be worth a look, but once you get past that edgy premise there just isn't that much to keep readers invested for further reading.