Did you ever sit around bored in Chemistry class and decide, hey, I like super heroes, why don't I make up my own team of super heroes? And then you come up with characters and names and super powers and costumes and everything. And then you rope your brother into the project and wind up writing and drawing and paying for the production of actual for real comic books starring these characters. Most people don't get past the first step of just dreaming up the super-people, which is really the only fun part. The rest of it is just work, hard work. What's also hard work? Reading the things.
Here's our latest offering in the "let's make up our own super heroes" sweepstakes, The Saints! This is obviously the story of the New Orleans pro football team and their quest for gridiron glory as they suffer what appeas to be a CG-rendered guy shooting his junk at them while dancing some sort of Irish jig in the sky.
If you thought you were getting in on the ground floor of an exciting new super hero universe with your purchase of The Saints #1, well, too bad sucker, here's four paragraphs full of backstory you're required to digest before you're up to speed. Four whole paragraphs of burgeoning paranormal activities, Chicago mayors sweating bullets, and awkward teens in ridiculous spandex that could have been addressed as part of the narrative, but I'm sure what we're about to see is so dense and rich that exposition would only slow us down.
The last time "anarchists" were on the streets of Chicago we got riots and bombings that rocked the nation. Today's anarchists are five people hanging out in the snow talking to their boss. Anarchy!
And here's where we meet the evil super team of evil anarchists, including Fire Spiderwoman, Fake Thor, Fake Spiderman #2, Strongbad The Beardinator, Fake Flash, Gun Guy, and Fake Wolverine. Roll a D20 to see who becomes an actual Champions character, and we'll move on.
How important is it to read everybody's biographical information before you go into super hero combat? Very important. If you don't, you can't relay that information to the reader via expository dialogue.
Oh, and here are our teenage heroes from the suburbs who are clearly dressed for a Chicago winter. Now get in close to the router so you can log into Mr. Lightning's wi-fi!
By the way, how DO you go to the bathroom in these things? Is there a zipper in the back? Will you have to spend fifteen minutes in a disgusting downtown bus station men's room stall trying to unwrap yourself? And what do you do with the cape? Just curious.
They were going to call this story "Piano Man," but they decided it made the whole thing seem a little silly.
Now I know what you're thinking, that this whole "everybody flies around in the snow so the artist doesn't have to draw backgrounds" aesthetic is starting to get a little tired. Well, buckle up, buttercup, because from here on out it's white space and little circles and lots of 'em!
Here the real super hero action starts, which in this case means "people shooting zap beams out of their hands" and "me putting the comic book back on the rack at the comic book store." Now roll a D12 to see if your force beam hits anywhere near your foe.
Your roll was successful! Okay. Now you're flying in a white void with little dots of snow falling around you. What do you do? Okay, now roll for initiative.
If things are getting so rank that super-villains can *smell* you coming, maybe you want to think about washing that spandex super outfit - if you can figure out how to take it off, that is.
In the future, Firebug will recall little of what takes place next. The letter from Marvel Comics' lawyers warning of copyright infringment, the nightmare of cease and desist letters, the torture of court appearances and filings, the terrible expense of the legal fees, a blur of pain, fear and rage. All easily avoided!
Meanwhile the Chicago authorities are apparently watching some sort of cartoon show. This explains how this is the only time young people were ever allowed to demonstrate on the streets of Chicago without a massive police over-reaction. Send in the riot cops, Mayor Daley! You never waited this long before!
Uh oh, looks like a third party has entered the battle and he's in a neck-breaking mood! Is that Spawn or Hawk, from "The Hawk And The Dove?" I think it's Hawk. Good to see ya buddy. Break ALL their necks and let's go home. It's cold out here.
You can really see the shock and horror on this anonymous muscled hero's visor as we learn first hand the shortcomings and limitations of having every single character in a story wearing some sort of face-concealing mask. Sure, it's an easy way to get out of drawing faces. But at what cost? What cost, I ask you?!
Whoever owned this comic before we did took the time to comment in the margins and possibly add some constructive criticism of the artwork. It's difficult to tell because their handwriting is illegible. Also difficult is telling where the thought balloons end and the little snowflakes begin. When, oh when will spring come?
In hindsight, the strategy of "let your Flash ripoff and their Flash ripoff run around and around and around until one of them gets tired" might not have been the best plan.
Hey, it's that thing that happened on the cover happening inside the comic, only now it takes place amidst stark geometric blocks and abstract shapes! Was it really this difficult to get reference photos of the third largest city in the United States?
I get that you're doing a whole Fantastic Four thing here with the stretchy guy saving someone from falling, but having one of the characters named "Mister" really foregrounds it, and that makes me take this whole "flying teenagers in a white void battling faceless super people" thing a little less seriously, you know?
Daley Plaza? Where Kennedy was shot? That haunted stretch of freeway overpass where America was forever changed? No, wait, that's DEALEY Plaza, and we don't have photo reference for that either.
This is bad, really bad! Even the little white dots have abandoned us! Even THEY got tired of waiting for this story to live up to its title, which promised us good young death and so far has failed to deliver.
WHAT is Nightwasp's fate? WHO is Pyre's mysterious killer? And WHY should any of us care?! Be there for the stunning climax as The Saints wrap things up with issue 2, which will conclude their comic adventures forever. Or at least for several years, after which a completely different creative team will try to shove these characters into the collective face of comic book fans with a third issue, which we've never seen but which we will assume is titled "Good Money After Bad."
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