- Identity Stunt 2
- Created & Written by Joe Khachadourian
- Line Art by
- J.C. Grande (chapter 1)
- Rei Lay (chapters 2, 3, & 4)
- Colors by Patrik Mock
- Letters by Michael Hoffert JrJ
- Cover by J. Briscoe Allison
- Chapter break art by
- Kyler Clodfelter
- J. Briscoe Allison
- Joe Rubinstein
Way back in 2018, I was introduced to a comic that embraced everything I love about the 80’s & 90’s action movie market. It followed the adventures of Sami Nasser, among the last of a dying breed of unknown stuntmen, working to make the stars look like heroes of legend without the use of CGI. The first story arc… well, here’s a blurb from my own review for issue 4
Stunt man Sami Nasser is Out for Justice. He was given a Raw Deal and has been Marked For Death ever since the villainous zealot Dominus broke the Code of Silence and told the world that he was the vigilante with a Death Wish known as Beatdown (he’s really not). Now Nasser has found himself reluctantly allied with the real Beatdown, and the two have declared Martial Law on Dominus and his crazed followers. If that turn of events weren’t chaotic enough, Nasser’s daughter is the lunatic’s captive and his best friend Mason wants An Eye For An Eye, adopting an alter ego of his own, calling himself Knuckleball. When the dust settles, will Sami Nasser prove Hard to Kill? Can he claim his Forced Vengeance and remain Walking Tall? Or will he fall victim to the ruthless Dominus’s Bloodsport? Whatever the outcome, there will be No Retreat, No Surrender in the finale for what will hopefully only be the first story arc for this action-heavy title that delivers Rapid Fire punches, kicks, and quips…thePullbox.com
I think it’s worth pointing out that I haven’t done many back-to-back (to back-to-back) reviews on a single comic title. There are always comics aplenty, both from marginally independent publishers like Boom, Titan, & Dynamite, as well as truly indie books that get sent my way from the individuals making them. This was the case with IDS. In those reviews, Joe was happy to see that I got what he was going for in his story and had a solid handle on how he wanted to tell it. When he was getting ready to start up Identity Stunt 2 (bigger, badder, stuntier) Joe asked if I’d be willing to help with the editing of his scripts, & I went from a reviewer to a guy whose name appears on the credits page.
With the second run in the can and a collected trade edition coming out, it’s fair to say that I’ve developed some passing familiarity with the work. Believe it or not, that doesn’t make writing a review any easier, but we’re gonna give it a shot and see where we turn up.
I’m going to start out by saying that having read Joe Khachadourian’s scripts for IDS & other comics yet to see the light of day, he has some of the most detailed and cinematically oriented writing I’ve seen. He’s got a great knack for dialogue, able to shift from light-hearted banter to darker tones without a hitch. After each script, I felt like I’d already seen the comic in its entirety because everything that Joe sees in his head makes its way to the page. The descriptions of people, places, and especially the action are laid out panel by panel and it was very easy to picture what he envisioned for the final product. Also, as the guy getting in on the initial drafts of the scripts, I’ve seen leaps forward in Joe’s writing. I’ve found that “editing” for him has become less about the structure and more about “hey, would it be kinda cool if…?” The only real hitches I can point to are more about page management. Joe’s ideas are so huge, so monumentally over the top in the most excellent ways, that cramming them into a four-issue run means that some details might be lost.
This bombastic sensibility also means that an artist is going to have their hands full in delivering on that promise. The first chapter of IDS2 brings some solid work by J.C. Grande. Panel layouts seem designed to mimic the movement of a camera, following the action across the page. What stood out in Grande’s work was his handling of the fight scenes. There are moments in there where a reader could really sink into the action and get a sense of the impact behind the heavier blows. There are some lapses, though; every now and then, some of the angles might not quite work, and body mechanics may not always jive with what’s happening.
Then we move on to the rest of the story, starting with Rei Lay taking over the art in chapter 2. In general, Lay seems to do well with more standard layouts but when the action starts to amp up it gets a little confusing. There are moments where perspectives seem a little off, and proportions don’t look quite right so when things start to kick off the pages are just a wee bit jumbled. The impression I got was that Lay struggled with some of the bigger moments, those grand ideas of Khachadourian that I mentioned before. The effort was there and when Rei Lay nails a panel, he hits it hard, but I don’t know that IDS was the best fit for his style.
In my latest read-through, I’ll say that Identity Stunt 2 (Electric Bugaloo?) works better in its collected form than in individual issues. The story flows when you’re able to read on, to keep it going, but unfortunately in many cases we don’t get the trade edition without sales of single issues. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not going to matter. I’m going to buy the trade, although that might have been a foregone conclusion after Khachadourian put my name on the front cover (well played, Joe). In the spirit of the action movie franchises it’s inspired by, IDS is picking up steam and getting bigger by the page. I’m kinda committed and have to see where we wind up next.
Final Score: 11/13