Publisher: Big Bang Comics
Creators: Gary Carlson, Ron Charles Williams, Glenn Whitmore, Joan Vives
Price: $4.99 (available at IndyPlanet.com)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“The diabolical human-computer Dexter Cortex discovered that Ultiman is alive and has turned the Ultimate Human Being’s robots against him. With the aid of Shutterbug’s alien technology they are able to block Cortex, and Megaton helps Ultiman recharge his powers so they can confront Cortex.”
Big Bang Comics is a pretty well-known name in Independent Comics circles, having had long runs through the years at various companies including Megaton Comics, Caliber Comics, Image Comics, and AC Comics as well as their own self-published issues. I’m kind of late to the party, as it were, having only started reading them since they debuted at IndyPlanet with the “Big Bang Adventures” title. So I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover. Oh, I’d heard of them many times over the years, but just hadn’t gotten into them. I’m happy to say I’ve corrected that oversight.
Big Bang’s overall concept is, as they put it themselves, “Remember when comics were fun? Big Bang Comics does. Big Bang is a retro series, honoring the creators, styles, and characters from the Golden and Silver Ages right up to modern times. Enjoy 80 years of faux comics history in the pages of Big Bang Comics, which began as a mini-series at Caliber Press in 1994, moved to Image Comics for about 50 issues and one-shots, and as a series of annuals from AC Comics”, and they embrace that wholeheartedly. Each issue, while definitely having a retro feel to it storytelling-wise, no less offers an assortment of amazing art suited to each of the individual chapters.
Issue #15, the latest in the line, is written and lettered by series founder and creator Gary Carlson. Gary definitely knows how to capture that Silver Age feel to both storytelling as well as the adventures themselves, offering a wonderful alternative to today’s far-too-often decompressed and hyper-violent projects from the mainstream. Like their tagline says, it’s just fun. Gary did a nice job with the lettering, though the tails to the balloons are sometimes a bit oddly-placed and always arrow-straight (with no curve added to them to help organic flow), but I freely admit that I’m guilty of that myself on more than one occasion so that’s the pot calling the kettle and all that.
Gary is joined on this issue by the lifework of artist Ron Williams, whose work I love. There’s a Jim Lee-meets-John Byrne feel to his work that really makes me happy. And full disclosure, Ron has done a story featuring my own character Steel Wolf teaming with Vito Delsante and Sean Izaakse’s character Stray that will be released soon, as well as an upcoming Taranis the Thunderlord story for G-Man Comics. So you can trust me when I say I’m a fan.
The issue is colored beautifully by Glenn Whitmore, offering a coloring style that falls perfectly between old school and today’s (often over-saturated) computer coloring. I really, REALLY like it a lot. There’s even a texture to the coloring on the pages that makes them feel like they’re from bygone days.
Joan Vives provides a lovely Ultiman/Shutterbug homage pin-up.
The characters in the story are Ultiman, Megaton, Shutterbug, Ultragirl, and the villain of the piece Dexter Cortex. I’m still learning about these characters, again having come late to the game, but I always enjoy a good Superman analog, and Ultiman has that same kind of Iconic feel.
In conclusion, I recommend the series as a whole and this issue in particular. While there have been installments of the Big Bang Adventures series I’ve not enjoyed as much, I can honestly say I like it a lot. It’s the kind of world that seems like it would be fun to be involved with. It’s a shame they don’t get nearly the level of exposure and press that they should because everyone involved in this series and its related projects like Anomalies really are well worth your time and support. Highly recommended.