Pullbox Reviews: Quincredible, volume 1 – Unbreakable, incorruptible… the hero people need (arguably not the one we deserve)

Invulnerability is a pretty useless superpower if you’ve only got a one-hundred pound frame to back it up. That’s what Quinton West’s life became when he went from small guy who got beat up to small guy who can’t get hurt after the meteor shower dubbed “The Event” gifted him the power of invulnerability but no other powers to compliment it.  But there’s more to Quin than meets the eye, and after some encouragement from his new mentor—a local New Orleans–based superhero named Glow—Quin realizes that he can use his quirky hobby of creating Rube Goldberg devices to outsmart the opposition. But being a hero paints a target on your back, and Quin’s got to risk it all to join the ranks of the superheroes he looks up to. It’s a good thing he can take a punch.  

New Orleans has survived more than its share of tragedy. Still recovering for the marks left behind by Hurricane Katrina, The Event added its defining scars to the mix in the form of a meteor shower. What followed could arguably be seen as even more defining as certain people developed powers & abilities far beyond what anyone would have previously thought possible.

Quin has seen the best and the worst of his home town, and in the wake of the Event he’s been gifted with powers of his own. Well, a power… and in his eyes it really isn’t much of one. He can’t fly, or move things with his brain, or even run faster than a moderately fast bicyclist. Quin can’t be hurt. At all, no bruises, scratches, or so much as a little puffy red mark. In New Orleans, a city where the streets chew up weakness and spit out the gristle, being indestructible just means the predators get to kick you that much more.

But that’s not all that Quin is… at least not all that he can be. Aside from the ability given to him by the event, Quin is also one of the smartest kids in his high school. He sees the good and the bad in his city, and he’s got the bone-deep desire to lift the people of New Orleans up. But when your super power is the ability to get thrown through a window, there’s only so much a kid can do.

I was slow to the party that came from Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime event & the birth of their superhero universe, but having finally gotten on the wagon I’ve been trying to catch up. Superb is an excellent title, and I’ve just started diving into Noble, but so far Quincredible has been the one that’s sparked my interest the most. I’ve gone through its single issue run, and when I saw that Lion Forge was putting it out in a single volume trade paperback I figured it was time to give the title its due.

As far as the writing is concerned, Rodney Barnes hit so many nails on the head that he needs to take up carpentry. First off, Quin is a really likable, relatable kid. He’s got a great heart, a sharp sense of humor and a mouth that often gets him into trouble. As far as comicbook character role models go, there are a lot worse out there (looking at you, Frank) as he comes to the realization that he needs to become the change he wants to see in his city. By no means is it going to be easy, indestructibility or not, as Quin finds that he’s wholly unprepared to take up the mantle of hero.

Barnes also walks a bit of a tightrope, making Quin’s story very topical… possibly more so now than when it was originally written. The New Orleans that Quin lives in isn’t the same one that tourists get to see. It’s a rough place full of rough people looking for the first sign of weakness. But all of this comes from a legitimate sense of desperation, acknowledging that there is injustice and disparity in how laws are all too often enforced. What I thought was interesting was that Barnes took the inclusion of superheroes, and pointed out that just having powerful beings out fighting crime wasn’t enough to solve the problem. His story is built on the fact that it will take dedicated people living on the ground & taking charge of their city. Also, the Big Bad in Quincredible is one of the better comicbook villains in that he’s not all about the flashy displays… instead he’s more the master manipulator, moving pieces across the chessboard to gain his desired results.

But without pretty pictures, Quincredible wouldn’t be much of a comicbook, so I’m gonna have to come up with something to say. It’s gonna have to be something good because the team of Selina Espiritu & Kelly Fitzpatrick is doing some outstanding work. Espiritu has come up with some great design work, her characters and their environments all suited to their personalities. Title character Quin looks nothing like what a superhero might be in other titles. He looks like an upstanding young man, highly intelligent and anything but a physical specimen. Like most of the people populating Quincredible, Quin just looks like a person.

Kelly Fitzpatrick’s work on colors adds the necessary depth to this world. She’s managed to keep a story about super-powered heroes & villains grounded in a very real setting. While not colored in a realistic looking style, upholding the look established by Selina Espiritu, Fitzpatrick is still able to put some oomph behind the already dynamic artwork. As far as creative matchmaking goes, this team up is a winner.

The last touch to Quincredible is laid down by letterer Tom Napolitano. His work here is pretty straight forward, nothing wasted trying to be too cute or fancy to the point of being distracting. Too often, I’ve seen letterers take an otherwise awesome story & put too much into their end of the work in an effort to strut their stuff. It’s been said that one of the biggest challenges for a good letterer is in getting the readers to forget about their presence in a comic. Napolitano’s efforts serve the writing well, without overshadowing or interrupting it.

Quincredible works on multiple levels. It’s an entertaining story full of interesting, likable characters. It’s also full to the brim of socially relevant commentary that addresses serious topics in a way that doesn’t beat a reader to death with a message of doom and gloom. Quin’s attitude, his grit & determination to do the right thing, is actually as positive an inspiration as could be expected or hoped for in any comic. If this title had nothing else going for it, just that, I’d call it a winner.

Final Score: 10+

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