Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Flying Sparks - Jon Del Arroz

As a long-time comic book fan (but you knew that), I don’t find much to interest me in what’s coming out from Marvel and DC these days. So recently I’ve taken a chance on several crowdfunded comics projects, and the first one to actually show up is FLYING SPARKS, a three-part superhero yarn from Jon Del Arroz in a nice-looking and well-produced trade paperback.

No origin stories here. Del Arroz drops us down in the middle of the action with his protagonist Meta-Girl battling a villain. She’s pretty new at the superhero game, learning as she goes, and not surprisingly taking some lumps in the process. She doesn’t seem to have any real powers. Her abilities come from the various gadgets she uses, such as anti-gravity boots and a stun stick. These gadgets were invented by her mentor, Professor Fitch, who teaches at the university where Meta-Girl is a student in her real identity as Chloe Anderson. Chloe also has a best friend, Hannah, and a boyfriend, Johnny Benvinuti, who owns a coffee shop.

But there’s where the twist comes in. Johnny isn’t just a coffee shop owner. He’s also a criminal, a high-level fence who deals mostly in stolen art, although he seems like a fairly decent guy at heart. And unlike Chloe, he does have a superpower that gives him the ability to deliver potent electric blasts. So what we have here, in some respects, is a romantic comedy with superheroes. But there are some dark undercurrents as well, as mysterious connections exist between Johnny’s criminal activities and Chloe’s crime-fighting as Meta-Girl. Then there’s Meta-Man, an actual superhero who’s been around for a while, and a mystery concerning his connection with Chloe.

Del Arroz’s fast-paced script is excellent, funny and dramatic by turns, and he certainly sets up plenty of intriguing questions and potential plot twists. My only real concern about the story stems from the format. Since the sequel will be crowdfunded, too (I assume), we don’t know how long it’s going to be until it’s published, which makes me wish we’d gotten just a tad more resolution in this first part. I liked FLYING SPARKS well enough, though, that I won’t hesitate to support the next volume. I want to find out what’s going to happen.

I haven’t mentioned the art, which is by Jethro Morales. Well, it’s not entirely to my old-fashioned taste (I grew up on Kirby, Kubert, Infantino, Ditko, Neal Adams, etc., after all), but Morales’ storytelling ability is pretty good and some panels are very dynamic.

Overall, I enjoyed FLYING SPARKS quite a bit. It has an old-school comic book tone while still being contemporary in its dialogue and characters. I hope it’s not too long before the next volume, because I’m ready to read more about these characters and their world.

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