Review – Hotshot #1
Writer: Victor Dandridge
Pencils/Creator: Michael Watson
Inks: Bernard Binder
Colors: Sanju Nivagune/Heather Breckel
Letters: Danny Cooper
Publisher: Freestyle Comics
Geek! Student! Friend! Hero! These are the descriptive words presented to readers up front on the cover of this superhero comic, Hotshot #1. Almost immediately upon opening up the comic, we discover that those words are entirely apt. After a brief intro letting readers know a bit of the backstory for the larger world of Michael Watson’s creation, we meet our hero Hotshot as he battles a fearsome villain. In a classic Silver Age-esque touch that might make Stan Lee (or his artistic partner, depending on how you choose to view such things…) blush this is really just a setup for the real beginning of the story in flashback form where we meet the geek, student and friend behind the hero.
Without giving away too much, Mike is a young art student with a love for burritos, who is also going through a bit of a rough patch with his girlfriend. By the time the flashbacks catch up with the battle opening the book, the threads connect in an interesting way, providing a nice, clean “classic” superhero tale.
In a day and age when many young independent artist’s (in this writer’s opinion) seek to mimic Japanese stylings a bit too much, creator Watson’s art is refreshingly unique with big and bold pencils that are very expressive and seem to leap off the page. Complimenting Watson’s pencils quite well, Binder’s inks do a good job of balancing line weights. Aside from a few odd color choices at spots and an odd grayscale flashback sequence that at first glance seemingly comes out of nowhere, the coloring in general is well done and completes an exciting visual look fitting for an exciting superhero book.
Writer Dandridge does a good job of telling the story with solid pacing and characterization, but through it all I can’t help feeling as if the reader is expected to assume too much in a premiere issue* based on, for lack of a better way of putting it, basic superhero comic logic. From the hero’s relationship issues, to even how he came to be (and even wants to be, for that matter) a hero is left much to the reader’s imagination and their understanding of how superhero comics work. This is fine if most, if not all, of the readers can be expected to “just get it” but I’m not sure an independently produced premiere issue with nothing else to fall back on can take that chance.
I can (and do) recommend this book because I know there is another shoe to drop so to speak.
*Note- while my original reading of this issue and re-reading for purposes of this review were done with the understanding that subsequent issues help fill in the blanks, I am writing this particular review with the mindset of someone being presented with the comic as a single individual introductory issue and no knowledge of the rest of the series.
William Satterwhite is the creator of the superhero webcomic Stealth and a freelance designer, internet consultant and illustrator living in Douglasville, Ga. His professional website can be found at www.williamsatterwhite.info.