New Lieutenants of Metal #1
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Ulises Fariñas
I had no idea what to expect going into New Lieutenants of Metal #1. I wasn’t familiar with either member of the creative team, nor had I read any of their prior works. But when I looked at the cover, there was something so nostalgic and familiar about the ostentatious font, unique and ridiculous character designs, and overall rambunctiousness that immediately drew me in. And before you even get to the story, on the first page there’s a playlist of rock music to prepare you for the experience ahead.
New Lieutenants of Metal is, in many ways, an homage to the classics. Even before I discovered that Joe Casey and Ulises Fariñas intended to create something inspired by the early days of Image Comics (even including a dedication to the founding members of the company next to the rock playlist), the comic book feels very much like it is paying respects to many mediums. From the names of the characters to the playlist at the beginning to the overall motif of the comic, there is clearly respect being paid to heavy rock and rock music. And the bubbly art, coupled with the way the comic unabashedly and without warning throws wild concept after wild concept onto the page without stopping to make sure the reader is following along, really gives me a strong Adult Swim-like vibe. Although in a way, Image Comics is to comic books what Adult Swim is to cable television in that the creator has free control to put out whatever crazy idea they may have.
The plot follows the titular group of heavy rock-inspired heroes who, at least in this issue, fight against giant sentient car beasts called (unsurprisingly) Monster Trucks. The group consists of the Kreig the leader, Spike the anthropomorphic panda and pilot of their Metal Jet, Vanderborg Riot the apparent cyborg of the team, and Steppenwulf who is the character we follow throughout the issue and the one who apparently has a troubled backstory. The plot isn’t too much to speak of so far: we do have simple introductions to characters and a bit of intrigue due to Steppenwulf’s struggles with his “violent urges” as well as the missing teammate Manowarrior’s whereabouts, but so far from this issue while there are lots of fun and wild ideas thrown onto the page I’m not sure if all of them stuck. None of the dialogue was bad per say, but none of it was really any good either. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting Shakespeare from a comic book about metalheads fighting monsters, but I would have liked more fun or interesting dialogue from the characters instead of the predictable banter that we got. On top of this, while we did get very basic introductions, I don’t really feel anything towards any of the characters yet. They look unique and silly, but they feel like they’re fulfilling roles at the moment instead of actually being their own individual characters. Spike is a mascot, Kreig is a leader, Vanderborg is a robot man. Steppenwulf is the only character so far who has anything interesting going on with him, but as of now it’s still too mysterious to get that invested in him.
The art is really where the book shines. It’s a style that feels reminiscent and yet unique to itself at the same time. And each page has something crazy going on, whether it’s Steppenwulf’s visual transformations or the Monster Trucks showing off their abilities. Not every page looks great, and sometimes the proportions of characters look a little wonky, but really it almost adds to the wacky style of the artwork rather than detracts from it.
While I can’t say if I really enjoy this series yet, it’s one that I want to stick with for now. There’s a lot of potential here for something really fun and memorable, but only time will tell whether the creative team manages to stick an impressive landing or fall flat in the end.
New Lieutenants of Metal #1
There’s a lot of potential here for something really fun and memorable, but only time will tell whether the creative team manages to stick an impressive landing or fall flat in the end.