AHOY Comics‘ first offering, The Wrong Earth #1, written by Tom Peyer and illustrated by Jamal Igle (inked by Juan Castro, coloured by Andy Troy and lettered by Rob Steen) has, at it’s heart, a simple but fun premise. Think Batman ’66 meets The Dark Knight Returns and you’ve got it, with a little pinch of Alice Through The Looking Glass for good measure.
Dragonflyman, as one would expect from comic book physics, has a doppelgänger on another parallel earth. He’s probably got countless duplicates running around, but let’s not get too carried away. This isn’t DC and its multiverse. Its enough that the wide eyed and more innocent Dragonflyman is transported from Earth Alpha to the darker, deadlier Earth Omega with its corrupted law enforcement and far darker parallels, including Dragonflyman’s arch enemy, Number One. Let’s see how he deals with this sudden, and frightening change, old chum.
Peyer has a career’s worth of superhero stories under his belt, so he’s writing from a very informed position. He’s clearly having fun with this series and with these two very opposite worlds he’s created. Its a playful homage to such stories, to the Batman TV show, and to Frank Miller’s work in the comics, giving us the Dark Knight we’ve known since the 80’s. This tribute to what has come before is not only reflected in the artwork by Igle and Castro, and colours by Troy (who juggles between two palettes in reflecting the differing moods and mise-en-scenes of these two earths) but also in the language used.
When we meet Dragonfly and his crimefighting partner, Stinger, they are strapped to the type of grandly designed torture trap you’d see each and every week on TV as a kid, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, with narration to match the style of the Batman ’66 show. Its familiar and warming too. Making the harsh, scarlet soaked world of Earth-Omega more jarring on the eye. Surprisingly, on Earth-Omega, Dragonfly (sans ‘man’) is short one sidekick, and he’s a grim loner working in the dark to avoid being caught by bent cops.
The art team of Igle, Castro on inks, and colours by Troy, work comprehensively with one another and stick with a no-nonsense page layout that could well be the key to success in luring in new, or even lapsed, comic readers. The unobtrusive lettering by Steen only adds to this clean, clear reading experience. Modern comics pages can often be too fussy, too difficult for the casual reader to follow. The Wrong Earth does not do that, and it’s something worth noting here, whether by accident or by design. A simple layout and somewhat familiar story could well be the key to this title’s success. Draw ’em in with a simple premise, then mess with our heads. I imagine Peyer and company have plenty of twists and turns planned that will play with our expectations of such parallel universe stories. By the end of this debut issue, we have our requisite cliffhanger and the tease that will make you want to pick up the next issue, and then the next.
Added to this is a great little back-up strip imagining the publishing history of Dragonflyman and Stinger, offering us up a Sunday Funnies style strip that, like Ed Piskor’s X-Men Grand Design, is presented as an aged strip, but even more so. You can even make out the faint print of the next page, just like in the old newsprint style comics of the spinner rack era.
Topped off with a prose story by Grant Morrison, which I must confess, I haven’t read yet, and a one page Too Much Coffee Man cartoon by Shannon Wheeler, and interviews with both Stuart Moore and Jamal Igle, and you’ve got an overstuffed comic that makes good on the original promise of AHOY Comics to deliver more, and more diverse content for your buck. 40 pages for $3.99? Sold!
The Wrong Earth #1 by Peyer, Igle, Castro and Troy is out September 12th from AHOY Comics and is orderable right now.