Freelance #1 from Chapterhouse Publishing hails the return of a comic book character deep from within Canada’s comic book legacy. I may or may not have gone over this before but it is hard to talk about Freelance without a bit of a history lesson.
Back in December of 1940 the Canadian government enabled the War Exchanges Conservation Act. Amongst other things, WECA prevented the importation of comic books from the USA. So, a few Canadian folks decided that they would step in and create comics for the Canadian youngsters. These comics are affectionately referred to in the comic collecting world as WECA or Canadian Whites. Hard to find, rare in excellent condition and highly desirable by the small but extremely dedicated WECA collecting community.
One such comic was Freelance, published by Anglo-American and featuring the titular character created by Ted McCall and drawn by Ed Furness. Freelance was a soldier of fortune who fought the Axis forces in Europe, Africa and the Pacific and his popularity endured for a total of 35 issues before American comics were once again permitted into Canada.
Chapterhouse Publishing is continuing their celebration of iconic Canadian comic characters which they started by revamping Captain Canuck for modern audiences. Then came their reboot of Northguard and now a fresh take on Freelance. Chapterhouse’s Freelance stars Lance Valiant, John Cabot and Tashia Kolchak as intrepid explorers who seek out the hidden secrets across the globe and protect the Earth from mysterious threats.
Jim Zub and Andrew Wheeler write an excellent high adventure story with some ancient mysticism blended in for good measure. This first issue introduces the characters, sets the stage and leaves a few dangling questions that will definitely have you coming back for more. Now I’m not a huge fan of Manga-styled art in general. And I’m also not a huge fan of loose or sketchy line work. And that is exactly what Vaneda Vireak delivers. And yet, despite my artistic style bias, the book looks great and very professional. Colours are fantastic with palettes changing for each scene and they help define the line work. Characters don’t all look the same which can be a problem when you don’t have colourful superhero costumes to tell everyone apart. My first impression was that I wasn’t going to like the art style but a few pages in and I was more than happy.
Chapterhouse has embraced a four issue, monthly story arc format with revolving series. So it is super easy to hop on board and enjoy the next four months of Freelance. Available at your Local Comic Shop (be sure to get them to order in Chapterhouse comics from Diamond), digitally at Comixology and directly at the Chapterhouse online store at http://www.chapterhouse.ca
Issue: Freelance #1 | Publisher: Chapterhouse Publishing
Writers: Jim Zub & Andrew Wheeler | Artist: Vaneda Vireak