Writer: Kevin Freeman
Artist: Stan Yan
Publisher: Ape Entertainment
Jason is a hero.
He's a Super-hero. He saves the world (okay, the city). He gets the girl and makes with her. Girl turns out to be evil. Girl shoots Jason.
Jason is dreaming.
Thus starts the first issue of the four-part SubCulture mini-series from Ape Entertainment. In reality (even comic reality), Jason, the main protagonist of SubCulture, is a comic-geek. He is not, however, the geek-supreme of his friend circle. All of his friends out-geek him and to such an extent that in comparison, Jason comes across as fairly normal. This includes both the males and the lone female of their clique, not to mention Jasonís job at the "Games Boutique" video-game store in the local mall. By the way, Jason hates his boss at the Games Boutique, only continuing to work there for the employee discount it avails him.
As is the norm with many comic readers, Jason and his friends hang out at the local comic shop every "New Comics Day." Well, Jason usually comes to collect his weekly stash and hangs out for a bit. His friends just seem to live there, all while having deep discussions like the type or lack thereof of underwear on a certain female comic character.
It is on one such run that Jason meets someone new. In a case of boy meets girl with the girl walking into the boyís life, literally, Jason meets the semi-gothic, semi-hip, semi-many more things and totally out of Jasonís league, Noel. A budding artist, Noel is a new arrival to the city and (to Jasonís luck) works at the coffee shop in the same Mall where Jason works. The rest of the issue deals with Jason and Noel getting to know each other and developing a (possibly) romantic relationship.
SubCulture is a human story. Be it Jason, his roommate Arthur, Noel or even Babs, the sole female in an otherwise all-male geek-group, there is something very identifiable about all the characters here. The humor angle is handled quite well and is uplifting. It beats down the feeling of impending angsty-doom that is the mainstay of a majority of the comic titles out today. Reading this story, I found myself smiling on more than one occasion.
The artwork, as with the writing, has a human, slightly humorous feel about it. It is a near perfect match to the writing; both synch together to make the SubCulture experience all the more enjoyable. My personal favorite is the comic shop scene where a newly stepped in Noel becomes aware of the gawking and drooling of Jasonís pals (and maybe even the shopkeeper).
Conclusion: Three thumbs up. SubCulture #1 should be on the pull-list of every comic-geek worth his (or her) salt. Minor niggle, every few panels the dialogue balloons tended to get too big and drew too much attention to them and away from story and art.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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