Sunday, March 1, 2020

REVIEW: Hellfighter Quin #1

So I had this whole thing where I was going to call this "Duel of the Firsts" because I had four issues to review this week that were all first issues in new series. I wrote one review and then had a total breakdown. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I received an advance copies of Hellfighter Quin #1 courtesy of Mad Cave Studios.
Opinions are my own.

Hellfighter Quin #1 (Mad Cave Studios)
Jay Sandlin, Atagun, Maria Santaolalla, Justin Birch

Quinlan Jones, AKA the Hellfighter, thought he’d hung up his mask for good. That all changed when Harlem’s own vigilante is forced into a tournament controlled by hidden clans to gain control over the Azure Sun; a mystical stone that provides abilities to those who come into contact with it. Here, Quin will fight for his life in a series of brutal contests against assassins, cyborgs, and other beings of unimaginable power. 

Damn, what a concept. A New York superhero is thrust into a Mortal Kombat style fighting tournament against all kinds of weirdo alien fighters? This kind of shit used to happen all the time in Big 2 superhero comics, but the past two decades have tried to keep things a bit more grounded.

But the ground gets old after a while and sometimes superheroes need to fly. Hellfighter Quin takes me back to oldschool comic storylines where shit got real weird on a monthly basis. Not only that, it gets us to the weird in record time. There's no origin, no explanation of Quins powers if he even has any, and nothing but context clues to really grasp the whole situation.

There's just four pages set on Earth before we're thrust into the tournament as suddenly as Quin himself. Then it's nonstop action between a cavalcade of weird characters. There's this knight guy, an archer dude, a queen who can teleport people, this chick with like big Wolverine talons coming out of her hands. And a fish man. I want more fish man.

It's not only refreshing to see such a weird and experimental superhero story, but an indie take on a superhero in general. Everyone wants to make superhero comics but consumers aren't even interested in the brand new characters Marvel and DC are putting out, let alone other publishers. It takes real balls to thrust us into a story about an original superhero long after they've hung up the mask and give us no lore whatsoever.

And that's totally fine! We don't always need tragic origin stories and lengthy build up. Sometimes it's enough to see someone put on a mask and kick ass and look cool. Sandlin wastes no time and gets to the action without sacrificing anything. I'm sure we'll get some exposition and flashbacks later - and that's okay! - but it's great to just dive head first into a new story.

I love the look of the world Atagun created here. everything is so colorful and creatively designed and they managed to make a universe that felt like a video game without having so many overt Scott Pilgrim effects. I can't wait to see what other kinds of cool battlefields and fighters show up.

Hellfighter Quin is great. It takes me back to the old days when superheroes were afraid to get hella weird or cut the fat and get to the good parts. Mad Cave comics have always had this "Late Night Saturday Moning" vibe going on and this series fights right in.