Sunday, January 3, 2010

Super-Powered Comics: Meet the Charlatan!

I am always out to review new independent superhero comics. They often seem few and far between, and unfortunately, often come in a format I am not willing to immediately shill out the cash for. Thank goodness for my local library. They allowed me to check out a fun new book called Charlatan: Preludes.

Published by independent (and oddly named) studio General Jinjur Comics, Charlatan is the story of Augie Halford. The story revolves around an object of power and its user and the sudden transformation of Augie by that power. When under the power, he turns in to a golden clothed and skinned hero with an Iron Man-like chest plate.

Augie, his wife, and daughter find themselves dragged in to an international conflict that only the mysterious power can help defeat. It feels like any number of other superhero stories, but the family situation serves to give the tale a unique twist. It’s exciting and it’s fun.

And that is the keyword with Charlatan: fun. It reminds me repeatedly of eighties Marvel and DC. Real world situations are always present and the heroes often are in rather dangerous situations, but writer Gil Lawson never lets it get in the way of the book being fun. It’s a quality sadly lacking in most mainstream titles these days. BUt for other fans of good quality comics from that era, you will find a lot to love with Charlatan.

Charlatan isn’t quite perfect. Artist Eliseu “Zeu” Gouveia either rushes pages or has an assitant somewhere as figures will often alter in facial features section by section. The first collection was clearly originally designed to be three individual issues which were (I assume) combined in to one trade for savings purpose. But any number of plot threads back on earth pop up, many featuring completely new characters, and all of which remain totally unresolved by book’s end. It does a lot to subtract from the cohesiveness of Charlatan: Preludes.

One last comment: Why the heck is this book called Charlatan. Is that supposed to be his super-powered form’s name. If so, it might be wise to point it out in the future.

Even with its foibles, there is a lot more to love in Charlatan. Sadly, not enough of this kind of comic exist anymore. But to quote Levar Burton, #8220;You don't have to take my word for it.”. This link will take you straight to a thirty page preview of the story. Read it. If you can tell me you didn’t enjoy yourself after finishing that, then you don’t have to buy it. If you did enjoy it, pick this up. It’s a good time and it is definitely Recommended.

1 comment:

General Jinjur Comics said...


Many thanks for reviewing our book and I am really glad to hear that you liked it.

Also very happy to hear that you felt it had that "classic comics" vibe--that is exactly where we want to go with Charlatan and our other books. We feel there is a definite need for engaging, fun books that are not only a good read for adults, but also content appropriate for young adult readers.

A couple of other quick points of clarification:

1) You are right, we had originally hoped to come out with a 6-issue mini-series, but due to changes in the comics marketplace we decided on 2 "three-issue" trades to tell our first story arc. Characters and situations introduced in "Charlatan: Preludes" will get wrapped up more fully in "Charlatan: Homecoming" which is about 50% complete.

2) We chose the name Charlatan because one of the central themes of the books (and we have a lot of story to tell beyond these first 2 books)revolves around Augie being a less-than-fully-powered stand-in for his daughter. In the eyes of the villains he meets and in his own heart, he has to grapple with the fact that he is not the "real" One Defender but he made a choice to take on that mantle and must now deal with the consequences.

Thanks again for the positive comments and we will be sure to keep you and your readers in the loop regarding when "Charlatan: Homecoming" sees print.



General Jinjur Comics