I find immortal characters incredibly interesting. From Wolverine in the X-Men, to Highlander, and just about any vampire story. That’s why I have some of my own. Either immortal, or just characters of a fantasy race that live longer than humans. The people and ages they see, the role they play throughout a world’s history. The endless potential for a full range of emotion and new experiences. Despite the overpowered nature that may make a character immortal, it’s made up for in an abundance of intrigue.
Jack Irons has an interesting approach to the immortal character. Rather than being a powerful mutant or an everlasting creature of the night, the titular character actually reincarnates and retains the memories of his past lives (though there does seem to be a little “extended lifespan” thrown in there too).
An immortal character, and a sci-fi with a western edge. Basically, it’d be an uphill battle to ruin this one for me. I’m gonna be upfront, I liked this one a lot. I can’t really find much to fault that couldn’t be considered nitpicking. As a reviewer, you’ve failed your job if you suggest something is near perfect without thoroughly explaining why. And as a writer, “it was good” as feedback is just as useless as “it was bad”. If you’re going to praise something, the best thing you can do for the creators and your viewers, is to tell them why it was so good. That way the creators know what their strengths are, and the consumer knows if they should be interested.
If I were to do my best to pick out what Jack Irons’ biggest flaw is, I’d say it’s the fact that essentially the entire first issue is exposition. Personally it doesn’t bother me, but I know it is an issue for many. I thought Jack’s explanation of his past was well paced and presented. It set up a lot about the character. Only real issue is, the world’s introduction suffered for it. It was teased, but this would’ve been a much bigger problem if there wasn’t already a second issue of the series available.
So why did I enjoy Jack Irons so much despite this? Let’s get into it.
First of all, the art is just fantastic. It’s heavily stylized, and memorable. I really like how Maximiliano Dall’o plays with proportions to make his character designs stand out. You can tell he’s using the sci-fi setting as an excuse to go nuts with it, and I’m loving it. Just look at how many completely unique silhouettes there are in the background characters alone.
That’s not to discount the color work by Matias Laborde. The way it glows and shines is a pleasure to look at.
One distinct advantage to the first issue being so exposition heavy, is that you get to know the character fairly well. There’s a sort of humbleness to him as a result of his wisdom, it gives you an immediate respect for Jack. The exploration of his past and his current description of it gives you a great read of his personality. Unfortunately, the lack of anything going on during the time of the story means you don’t really know what he does or what drives him currently.
We do get a short little fight at the end that gives us a good impression of how he carries himself, but that’s about it. The only other information this encounter provides is that Jack is apparently a very wanted man, and he himself only makes passing comments about the fact that there are quite a few reasons for it.
So, I suppose the problem isn’t really with the exposition itself, just that it’s so heavily top loaded. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the execution, just that the audience will likely feel like they’re forced to sit through a long winded history lesson before they’re allowed to watch the World War II film. Things like this are better dispersed throughout a story, being brought up at relevant times. Jack revealing this information during an exciting adventure may have even had some comedic potential, if that’s ever something you need.
It feels as if we’re being treated to the anecdote of a legendary character, without being aware of why we should care.
The more I get into this, the more I realize I actually do take issue with the way it played out. I suppose that’s just proof to my earlier notion that I do have a bit of a bias towards the subject matter, I almost didn’t even notice I had a problem with any of it. I can’t even fault it for length, as it was a fairly sized comic. The backstory simply takes up that much of the time. On top of that, we’re getting all of this information without really understanding how it effects the story. It’s why you can likely tell I’ve been struggling to write detail into this review.
So that’s about the long and short of it. It’s problems may have been a lot more severe had there not already been a release of the second issue before this review was written. It’s good, and has a great style. But the first issue of Jack Irons is more of a prologue than a story arc, and you should be aware of that before deciding to purchase it.
I personally recommend it, but I would also recommend the creators perhaps come up with some way to package the first two issues together, lest customers feel just a bit cheated. That being said though there is that second issue, so if you like where this is going you can absolutely get more.
With that, I’ll see you in the review for Jack Irons #2.