Author: James Patrick
Artists: Martin Szymanski
Release Date: February 10, 2016
Publisher: 21 Pulp
Review Spoilers: Mild (spoilers marked)
Imposter is a great, subversive look at superhero identities – which, consequently makes it difficult to talk about without spoiling anything. That being said, it’s also a busy book that brings the reader along at break-neck speed until dropping the curtain on the twist of the issue. It’s one of those series that I think will benefit from multiple reads of each issue, as going back through makes it easier to spot the subtle hints that make the ending obvious.
The timing of the book jumps around, but there are helpful headlines to keep the timeline in some semblance of order. Artist Martin Szymanski and colorist Osmarco Valladao work together to create different realms in support of the cast of superheroes in the issue, the coloring was especially helpful in giving a unique feel to each setting. From the Tether Realm, to straight-from-gangster-noir-Black City, to the greenery of the Wild Lands, all the way to outer space, there’s a grit to the penciling that brings all the different places together.
Between the vast locations, there is also the introduction of multiple superheroes known best in each of those places – Dr. Oculus, The Centipede, Jungle Jack, and Captain Apex. Readers glimpse a few of these heroes in action, but the focus is on Black City and The Centipede as he assists Detective Hale Barker in the Warehouse District with some thugs that are familiar to them both. It’s not the first time The Centipede has come to join forces with the detective, with them sharing an easy rapport and practiced plan of action. But it is the first time The Centipede has been so badly injured in a fight.
SPOILERS START HERE
From 21 Pulp’s website, readers already know where the story is going to go from here:
Hale Barker has just learned the world’s biggest secret – that every single hero who’s ever existed has been the work of only one man. That one genius figured out the best way to fight evil was to create an opposing force for every danger. But now Hale Barker has to replace that man. From the crime vigilante Centipede to the interstellar Captain Apex to the sorcerer Dr. Oculus, Hale Barker will impersonate heroes of all genres and try not to drowned in the lies it takes to be an Imposter.
What’s interesting about this twist is that Barker gets to the secret lair, goes through the motions of watching the heroes carefully prepared monologue, learns the secret, and is offered (or rather, strongly encouraged) to take up the mantle of the imposter – and his reaction to learning that?
“Go to hell!”
It seems as if he’s made his choice, even as the final page hints at future dangers that someone is going to have to defend Earth against. Whether that defender is Barker or someone else remains an answer for the next issue.
With so many different ways this story could play out (and already having been surprised more than once this issue, I won’t even pretend to know what’s happening next), Imposter promises to be an intriguing look at superhero identity and responsibility.