Captain Kid Volume 1: Super-People Problems
Written by: Tom Peyer & Mark Waid
Art by: Wilfredo Torres
Colors by: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Covers by: Wilfredo Torres & Kelly Fitzpatrick
Published by: Aftershock Comics
A review by Stacy Dooks
Ever since I was a little kid (which was around the time they’d unveiled Wheel 1.0) I’ve always been a fan of Captain Marvel/Shazam. The concept of the young boy who says a magic word and is transformed into a powerful adult was an appealing one to six year-old Stacy as he enjoyed the Shazam! cartoon from Filmation in the halcyon year of 1982. Thirty-five years later (ouch) we find our hero enjoying Captain Kid for the exact inverse reason: a middle–aged man who can transform into a powerful young hero. Interesting how one little tweak to a concept can suddenly provide a whole new perspective on things.
Chris has just celebrated his 45th birthday, but his life leaves a lot to be desired. His job as a music editor at a local magazine is in jeopardy as print media continues its slow death, his father’s health is a continued source of worry, and he’s still hurting from a messy divorce and the loss of his mother. To top it all off, he’s suddenly discovered he has the ability to transform into a younger man who’s able to fly, is super-strong, and is the embodiment of his childhood dreams. A mysterious young woman named Helea with similar abilities informs him that he’s been charged to save the world from the machinations of the Mysterious Serpent, but the clock is ticking. They’ve only got until 1986 or the world as we know it is doomed.
The best compliment I feel I can pay Captain Kid is that for a book set in the present day it feels like a 1980s property. I could easily see the good Captain rubbing shoulders with THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO or THE LAST STARFIGHTER in terms of a solid ’80s action/sci-fi premise. Tom Peyer and Mark Waid are experienced hands at crafting a superhero origin; they know what works, what doesn’t, and how to strike a balance between lighthearted action-comedy and serious drama without having to heap on the angst. They also make the book quite funny, and when Chris described the villain’s nefarious weapon as a “Jack Kirby Machine”, my grin was ear to ear. They also manage to work in some pretty powerful emotional beats into what appears at first glance to be nothing more than a light bit of wish-fulfilment fantasy. There’s a moment with Chris’ father that hits like a punch to the stomach.
The art is wonderful, but Wilfredo Torres is always a hallmark of quality. He manages to convey humor, pathos, and action with a deft hand and I place the ’80s-feeling aesthetic largely at his feet. Every character had a distinctive look, and his command of action and scale was smooth and easy to follow. I also love how his designs for Chris and Kid have a similar through line, as well as his designs for the Kirby-esque villain tech. He got a chance to really cut loose and go full superhero, and it’s clear he’s having a blast. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors deserve high praise as well, for really making the artwork pop and bring the mundane/epic contrasts to the fore.
The best compliment I can pay the series’ first outing is that it definitely leaves you wanting more. The ending is self-contained enough to have this be the hero’s sole outing, but also open-ended enough to allow for the possibility of further adventures. I’m hopeful the latter proves true, because this is a character and a world I wouldn’t mind revisiting.
Buy it. If you like a nice blend of action and comedy with a lot of heart, this is right up your alley. It also makes for a great gift for people who might enjoy superheroes in movies or television, but might be intimidated about making the jump to comics. Peyer, Waid, and Torres have created a fun and enjoyable superhero character and I can’t wait for more. Recommended.
Captain Kid Volume 1 will be out on June 20, 2017.