The question of "What happens when the world's greatest hero goes bad?" has been asked many times before, from Mark Waid's Irredeemable to the Justice Lords from the Justice League cartoon. Now the question is raised once again, this time in Iron Age Studios' Jaded #1.
"There's no such thing as super heroes," says writer/creator Jon Santana, and with that thought he set out to create a world where the world's greatest hero snaps, and someone has to pay the price. Jaded #1 is divided between the past and the present, with the first part recounting the moments leading up to the heel turn of a superhero called Sovereign, and the second part introducing the mysterious forces tasked with stopping Sovereign from destroying them all.
Part 1 is a pretty straightforward story. Sovereign stops a jumper from killing himself, and we get a glimpse into what makes Sovereign tick. I like that we immediately see that Sovereign is a pretty powerful guy, able to hold a conversation with a suicidal man while saving the city from muggings and fires at the same time. But there's a hint of a hero who's just about tired from dealing with all this, his fall from grace slowly creeping in but you can't help but watch.
The second part fast forwards to the present, and we are introduced to a team of supers tasked with stopping Sovereign and his reign of terror. It doesn't help that the team is just as psychotic as the man they're tasked to stop, and it's interesting to see where Santana will take this.
Too bad the art takes it all down a notch. A comic book is a visual storytelling medium, and a good comic has the writing and art working together to tell a story clearly. Unfortunately, Part 1 (drawn by Kim Jacinto) is probably the most confusingly drawn story I've seen. Sure the art has that nice, cartoony style, but poor storytelling choices (you'd never know that speck in the city skyline was a person jumping to their death from a building) and boring and confusing panel compositions (characters appearing and disappearing on panel for no reason) kill the suspense quick. Jimbo Sagrado's work on Part 2 fares better, with art that has a lot of action and atmosphere, and the one that really feels like a superhero comic book.
As indie creators trying their hand at making a comic book, the Jaded team gets a pass. For a 1st issue indie, Jaded #1 is actually a pretty good effort. If the next issue gets better art and a cohesive story, it just might make it big. The book was launched at the New York Comic Con, with the full release set for Fall 2011. Visit the Iron Age website for more info. (A PDF copy of the comic was provided by the publisher)