Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: Alex Thomas, Comix Tribe, Gilbert Graham, Glasgow Comic Con, John Lees, Ken Nuttall, Mike Gagnon, The Standard
Every now and again we’re lucky enough to have an early look at a title we love reading and with issue #4 of The Standard we got an early sneak peek ahead of its debut at this weekend’s Glasgow Comic Con.
Back in April last year we reviewed The Standard #3 and although it’s been a while, the hype around this next issue hasn’t wavered any – that’s mostly down to the quality of the book and the things that have changed between then and now. The Standard went global with Comix Tribe giving it a new release to a wider market and thank god they saw sense to do that. Issue 1, 2 & 3 helped showcase the depth of plot and characters that writer John Lees has created and the hope for me was that the second half of this six-parter would continue in the same way…….thankfully it does and with real style with issue #4. Gilbert Graham came out of retirement to solve the latest case that saw his former sidekick added to the list of casualties and in his honour, he vowed to don the mantle of The Standard again and save the children who continue to go missing in Sky City. We saw that happen in issue #3 but with us only half-way through the story…..there’s more for us to discover…..or maybe just more for Mr Lees to surprise us with.
The out-of-retirement superhero has a new place in the world now but the big question remains as to whether that is something that can be sustained or if fighting the modern-day villains is a young-man’s game. The suit may sag more than it used to but the ideals he represents and the conviction to uphold justice with the powers at is command is still very much at the surface as Gilbert takes his good deeds as serious as he ever has. Whether he’s in or out of the suit he is still growing as a character, he still has a contribution to make and even with his granddad-like exterior, he’s held in high esteem by the general public.
The action and mystery are still there and kept as a constant piece of intrigue for the issue but the book really excels during the more personal moments that drift in and out as they do in real life. Gilbert visiting his wife, Caroline, in the nursing home she stays in being one of those poignant moments that stick out for me as this truly ties the character to the real world outside the panels of the comic. His sense of duty to her is given depth in an earlier flashback of them having dinner and a dance on the moon in their early days as a couple. These moments break-up the mystery and action surrounding The Standard and his on-going investigations into the more prominent villains in the city…..an investigation that leaves us on the edge of our seats with The Standard being knocked out cold……DAMN YOU JOHN LEES!!! (kidding J) There are still twists in turns in this issue, as there were in those first three, and the humour mixed with those sad, very real moments gives this a much more realistic edge, something to relate directly to and that’s what makes a title like this even more engaging.
One thing I would say is that the artwork and page layouts have stepped up a notch from what’s gone before – maybe as this has become a global title but I’m inclined to think that it’s more to do with Jonathan Rector himself. He’s raised the bar in issue #4, more variation in the layouts and a real epic feel to the characters he’s adding life to, emphasized perfectly by Mike Gagnon’s colours and Ken Nuttall’s lettering which all combine so effortlessly. So it’s 4 down, 2 to go……and the momentum and quality is being maintained so smoothly that I can see this keeping me guessing through until the end. Great work and a must-read for local and worldwide fans alike.
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