Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Quincredible #1, out November 28 from Catalyst Prime and ROAR, two imprints from Lion Forge Comics.

Quincredible #1

Cover to ‘Quincredible’ #1. Art by Michelle Wong/Lion Forge/Catalyst Prime/ROAR

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘QUINCREDIBLE’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

by Clyde Hall. As a downstate Illinois kid, there were two meccas of Comic Bookery: NY, NY and Sparta, IL. All the cool people who made comics did it from the New York offices, and the books were printed a few counties over from my house, at World Color Press. The indicia on every comic back then told me so. We were the brawny, sleeves-rolled-up Heartland, and we did the four-color heavy lifting for Stan Lee and Julie Schwartz! Fast forward to now, and as I read releases by Lion Forge, their St. Louis, MO headquarters address awakens that 7-year-old me and prompts, “Look… we got a front office!” Midwestern pride renewed, no geographic stretch. The Lion Forge approach to the art form and their creativity-driven focus across multiple interests and ages fuel the thrill, but hometown satisfaction counts large.

Community pride is also part of their newest ROAR/Catalyst Prime imprint title for the YA/Teen market, Quincredible #1. Hurricane Katrina was just the opening act for the New Orleans of Quin’s world. An already teetering NOLA reeled from the catastrophic, planet-wide meteor shower that came later. But the people endured, and despite dual delayed federal responses to the events, they’re rebuilding their city. Quin and his parents are New Orleanians weathering their difficulties as best they can.

Unlike the first disaster, the meteor storm didn’t just exact a toll on the world. In some cases, it brought bonuses. Several humans gained metahuman abilities in its wake, and we find that our teen protagonist, Quin, is one of the blessed. Only he sees it as a faux-blessing. Unlike new superheroes like Noble, Quin’s been granted the power of invulnerability. Doesn’t get sick. Skin tough enough to withstand cutting, but we don’t yet know if he can withstand a bursting shell. And—that’s it. He still seems to feel pain, doesn’t have enhanced strength or speed or concussive blasts or the ability to nullify gravity. When we meet him, Quin is unimpressed by his superpower situation, but is trying to use his tech skills to design an early warning system for his home. Next time disaster strikes, he wants to know in advance.

Otherwise, despite having a superpower, Quin’s life could be that of any teenager. He’s an outsider with few friends. Pines for a girl at school who may or may not know he exists. Gets waylaid by bullies for walking down an off-limits street (bullies who just enjoy the beatdown, don’t really notice a lack of bruises or blood). A dad who revels in his son’s techspertese, a mom who keeps him on a shorter accountability leash than he’d like. He has a few blossoming passions, but really? He’s coasting.

The ride ends at a rally where he encounters adult superheroes using their abilities on behalf of NOLA. In the chaos resulting when local officials try to shut down the rally, one of the city’s champions discovers Quin’s ability. Their conversation kindles the teen’s dissatisfaction with settling for the way things are. It fuels his need to belong to something, to strive for something greater than himself. By the end, Quin’s not sure how becoming a ‘superhero’ is going to play out for someone like him, but he’s willing to commit.

As origins go, this one’s not cast from the “In the pulse-pounding tradition of ___________!” mold. It’s low-key and paced well by writer Rodney Barnes, a tone that fits the setting like smooth Dixieland jazz. There’s sparse action, but the emphasis is on getting to know Quin. How he thinks, how he speaks. Barnes conducts the bullying scene with dialogue that surprises but gratifies. When confronted by those brawnier but less-brainy, how would a smart kid try to escape their wrath? Quin’s attempt is admirable. Our teen years are filled with such moments, and it’s difficult to imagine readers of that age not connecting with him on some level. Barnes also introduces a line encompassing the heart of his narrative as succinctly as one about great power and resulting responsibilities decades past.

Trope feints inspire smiles as the narrative develops. The moment when Quin looks up at the adult hero and fishes for a mentor, flashes of ‘The sidekick find of 2018’ arise in the mind’s eye. He’s told he doesn’t need a teacher. He must make up his own mind: Will he use his powers to improve the world, or not? I admire that Barnes didn’t push hard for a complete powers and abilities rundown, another trope avoided and minted for building interest. The comics fan will anticipate revelations while being plagued with possibilities regarding Quin’s gift. How invulnerable is he? Does he age? Is the imperviousness due to toughened tissue and bone density, or a reflexive forcefield? Can he be poisoned (probably not)? Can he be choked into unconsciousness (probably so)? How can he expand on and best utilize this helpful but modest power?

And while the focus never leaves our main character, artist Selina Espiritu dwells on background details that keep the story flow interesting and fresh. Quin walks through sections of the city with battered, leaning houses. A video chat from his mother, displayed on a smart phone, provides all we need to know about her rigid parenting without bringing her physically into a panel. Espiritu’s layouts are stable, functional, but peppered with brilliant moments. The silhouette of the hero used as a one-page recap of his hometown’s recent history and horror may be the most effective imagery here.

Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors hint at a city whose residents have cobbled together what they had in their basement and second-hand donations to furnish their homes. Add that gentle mishmashing, nothing quite coordinated in color or style, alongside the day-to-day dreariness of Quin’s routine. Then punctuate moments colorized by amazing hero uniforms and power effects. That’s the layered work Fitzpatrick’s accomplished, and the care she’s taken pays off.

Tom Napolitano’s lettering fits the overall telling of the tale. It’s spartan, easily attributable, perfectly readable. Sound effects are controlled, limited, where a lesser professional would wedge more into scenes not reliant on them. His restraint grounds the work with intimacy.

The Event that led to the Catalyst Prime titles is referenced, characters from other books appear, but a reader can enjoy Quincredible #1 without cracking open additional Lion Forge books. This issue will make you want to, but it’s not required going in. Instead you’ll be relating to Quin’s situation. This issue may even inspire moments that compel personal reflection. “So I have talents. Paltry talents, but still. What am I doing with them to make the world better?” It’s an internal conversation we could all stand to have.

Lion Forge/Catalyst Prime/ROAR/$3.99

Written by Rodney Barnes.

Art by Selina Espiritu.

Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

Letters by AW’s Tom Napolitano.

8 out of 10

‘Quincredible’ #1 hits stores November 28.

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