Identity Stunt #1
Written by Joe Khachadourian & Ruairi Coleman
Art by Ruairi Coleman
Colors by Timothy Brown & Walter Pereyra
Letters by Ruairi Coleman & Joe Khachadourian
The story of Identity Stunt focuses on professional stuntman, martial artist, and former National Guardsman, Sami “Sam” Nasser as his world is turned upside down by Studio City’s resident demon-worshiping, criminal mastermind Dominus Smith, who has mistakenly identified Sam as the alter ego of local vigilante, Beatdown: A mysterious character that has been thwarting Dominus’ many diabolical schemes over the past decade. Convinced he has his man, Dominus seeks to target Sam and those he holds dearest for torture and annihilation, in retribution for ten years of defeat and frustration.
Sami Nasser’s career as a stuntman is going strong, most fortunate in today’s CGI effects-laden world, while other aspects of his life may not be going quite as well. He’s currently separated from his wife Tracy Hicks, a notable celebrity in her own right, and his daughter Alyssa seems to be in constant trouble at school (I got the impression that a lot of that could be Sam’s influence). Mason, Sam’s best friend and fellow veteran, is in a bit of a career crisis- who knew a studio would have a problem with heavy cocaine use?- which is a problem for Sam as it was his good word that got Mason a job. Long story made short, Sam’s life is anything but simple, so the added complication of being outed as the vigilante known as Beatdown (side note: he’s totally not) on national television is a complication he really could live without.
Identity Stunt from the go-getters at Markosia is presenting a question I’m not sure I’ve ever seen posed in a comicbook. Sure, we’ve seen heroes outed before. Hell, the first Civil War over at Marvel covered pretty much all of the pros and cons of publicly known alter egos- check with a certain webhead, it didn’t work out so well for him. What really hasn’t been covered, so far as I know, is what could happen when some random bystander- or a highly skilled Hollywood stuntman and military veteran- gets the finger pointed at him.
In the case of Sami Nasser, things could get a little dicey to say the least. Beatdown isn’t the most popular of heroes, to be sure. His methods are just a little bit on the “Punishery” side of the coin, resulting in folks on both sides of law wanting him stopped. And the individual doing the pointing, Beatdown’s nemesis Dominus Smith, has all of the religious fervor of an Alistair Crowley with which to further complicate (ie: endanger) the lives of Sam and anyone close to him… something that isn’t going to earn Sam any points with his estranged wife, Tracy.
Identity Stunt has a lot going for it, in the so very humble opinion of this reader. The dialogue is pretty darn sharp, dosed with banter that doesn’t go overboard. The characters have personalities and quirks that make them relatable and in most cases likeable (sorry, but there’s no helping that Dominus Smith guy). Take all of that, and then add in the fanboy satisfaction of a liberal sprinkling of pop-culture movie references (Lethal Weapon, Tango & Cash, and if I’m not mistaken I believe there’s a manly handshake ala’ Schwarzenegger and Weathers from Predator), and the equation comes down to a job well done by creator & writers Joe Khachadourian & Ruairi Coleman. This is the first bit of work I’ve seen from these two, and there really is nothing to indicate that this is their first or second outing.
Of the artwork, I’m almost embarrassed to admit to still more gushing praise. The team of Ruairi Coleman (illustration), Timothy Brown & Walter Pereyra (colors) has put together a great visual style that’s a little reminiscent of Humberto Ramos or Chris Imber. The character designs are pretty sharp, everyone blessed with physiques suitable to their roles in the play, and there isn’t any trouble telling one from the other (a problem I see too often is a tendency for artists to stick to an artistic comfort zone, the same set of facial features used over and over again). Keeping in mind that there hasn’t been much in the way of action yet, what there is shows great promise of things to come.
I don’t really know what I was expecting when I cracked open Identity Stunt. In all honesty it wasn’t a book that took upmost of its first issue to establish characters that are all busy living their lives outside of the reader’s POV, rather than waiting in some kind of limbo until they were needed. More importantly, the lack of action wasn’t at all boring, as everything else going on in the book was well done and entertaining. It’ll be interesting to see how a stuntman with a specific skillset can handle himself if and when he’s backed into a corner or forced to fill the uncomfortable role of vigilante superhero.
This was a solid read, and one that I recommend for any fan of action comics that manage to work in some real substance under the hood. I have a feeling that as this series gains momentum, it’s going to be a fun ride.