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Wildguard: Casting Call #1

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Todd Nauck
Artists: Nauck (p), Lary Stucker (i)

Publisher: Image Comics

Plot:
Fleeting fame and fortune await five heroes who will emerge as the winners of an American Idol style contest being held to form a super-hero team, and this brass ring has pulled in hundreds of lower tier super-heroes. As each hero is brought before a panel of judges we see they are judged on how useful their powers would be, how well their personality would fit into a team, but most importantly how readily could they be fashioned into media darlings.

Comments:
This opening issue makes for a pretty solid introduction to its central concept in which an army of lower tier super-heroes descend upon an American Idol style contest in which the end goal will be the formation of a five-member super-hero group. Now some of the gags don't work all that well, as Wannabe is a one-joke premise that could've been funny if it the character hadn't been presented as simply the character designed to get on everyone's nerves, and the scene where the American Idol contestant accidentally finds her way onto the stage felt like it needed a rim-shot to accompany its rather obvious "isn't this a funny scene" factor. Still, there are more moments of humor that work exceptionally well, as this book is filled with fun little observations, and even better most of the characters that are introduced all have some element that I find intriguing, so this book should start getting far more interesting when the judges start to whittle down the team to a more manageable number. Now it's a little early to be heading in to cast a vote for who I want as the fifth member, but based on this issue it does look like Todd Nauck does have at least a couple characters already penciled into the team, as Ignacia and Snapback are allowed to do more than simply show off their powers. In any event, this is a surprisingly absorbing reading experience, that I hope will find the sizeable audience it deserves.

As for the art, Todd Nauck's work remains as impressive as ever, and I do have to say that this opening issue is a glowing example of his ability to deliver a massive crowd of characters without it ever coming across as confusing, or chaotic. I mean, this issue is quite literally overflowing with costumes, and yet I'd be hard pressed to point out two costumes that looked alike, or any sign that Todd Nauck simply threw together a costume without first taking the time to insure it reflected either the character's power, or their personality. I mean how can one not smile at our first look at Adhesor, or the overly grim Crimson Phantom Vengeance. The big finish where the giant robot smashes its way into the studio before exploding into an army of armored goons is also a very solid bit of art.

Final Word:
This opening issue is a lot of fun, as Todd Nauck shows he can write a funny book with the best of them, and this is far more difficult to accomplish than I've just made it sound. Now it certainly helps when one has such a broad target to lampoon, but most of the humor in this issue doesn't stem from the obvious “look at this desperate bunch of losers” gimmick that it could've, as Todd Nauck makes an active effort to offer up a diverse collection of characters, and motives for why they are taking part in this contest. Now yes there are moments of humor that result for character's having lame duck powers, like the ability to separate their body into smaller pieces, or poor Adhesor, whose scene in front of the judges is a very funny moment. However, there's also an underlying notion that there is something not quite right about this contest, as the reasoning given by Producer X to the Wandering Eye sounded a bit ominous. The issue also wraps up with a fairly solid cliffhanger moment, and it should be fun to watch this group in action.



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