Imperial #1 (Image)

CREDIT: Image Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – Characterization Comes First in This “Superhero” Book.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

The first issue of Imperial takes a normal, everyday person and puts him into crazy extraordinary situations. It’s a concept that so many stories, especially comic books, are based on. Writer Steven Seagle and artist Mark Dos Santos have taken familiar themes and have made them relatable through fantastic and realistic characterization.   The main character, introduced on the first page, clearly Imperial’s strength.  I found him to be so likable that I will come back to find out what specifically happens with him more because of his characterization than for any of the super heroic concepts introduced, even though at times they’re just as strong.

We first meet Mark McDonnell as he’s spreading his father’s ashes deep in the Colorado Rockies. As he’s doing so, he hears a voice calling out for him which happens to be the voice of an old comic book character called Imperial. As he lets Mark know just why he’s reaching out to him, we get insight into Mark’s personality not only through his word balloons, but also his internal dialogue. It felt and read real to me despite the unreal situation.  He seemed to be a character that will quickly appeal to readers as he just happens to be a comic book collector, a toy collector and has a girlfriend that’s doing her best to accept and understand it all. There are funny as well as sweet moments throughout, and even if the superhero component wasn’t there, there’s quite a bit to enjoy just in reading about Mark and his girlfriend’s relationship.

The art by Dos Santos is just a bit cartoony, but fits the light hearted tone of the story. Dos Santos uses a wide format with his panel layout, sometimes using just three panels to a page, giving the art a cinematic feel.  Mark’s look matches his personality and Imperial’s body language aligns with his stiff personality. My only complaint with the art is on the cover. It’s an all white cover with a white logo at the bottom and characters in largely white costume, it really does not ‘pop’.  The lettering of the logo also looks a tad off, almost pixel-y, as it tries to sit on top of the all white background and the issue number is in a small type font on the back. It’s a small complaint that in no way affects the story, but by trying to create a unique look out it ended up looking off to me.

This is a nice start to a series that’s both easy to read and full of promise. The story opens on the inside cover and thirty pages later wraps up on the inside of the back cover. Seagle and Dos Santos are not creating an entirely new idea or premise so far, but they’re taking their time and trying to perfect a premise we’ve seen plenty of times before. It’s a fun book that made me laugh and feel good, with an ending that shows there’s also something darker on the horizon. Imperial looks as though it’s combining a lot of the feelings and emotions that I like to see in stories and characters and I can’t wait to read more.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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