Posted on July 16, 2008 by Flames
After reading the first two issues of Marcus Almand’s comic book, Razor Kid, I’m left feeling surprisingly compelled to read more. Razor Kid is as indie as it gets, but this does not belie the effort that Almand and his revolving crew of artists have put forth in giving readers a superior product.
Issue one introduces us to 15-year-old Alexander Tanaka, AKA Razor Kid, as he fights Kevin Michaels in an exercise of initiation into the C.A.P.E. (Citizens Authorized for Protection and Enforcement) program. Alexander is a boy genius who’s developed an armored super suit equipped with an assortment of blades and devices including cybernetic arms that replace his own which have been amputated. Kevin, 18, provides quite a test as he appears to be a full-blown martial arts badass.
After a tough fight, Alexander nervously awaits his initiation score. In the meantime we are shown a bit of his home life during which more exposition is provided regarding his family and evidencing the extent of Alexander’s intelligence. The first issue leaves us with a flashback in which Alexander is bound while a wicked doctor severs his arms, thus providing a glimpse of Alexander’s core motivation as Razor Kid.
Issue two takes us to a party thrown by Kevin Michaels and it introduces us to some of Alexander’s friends, namely 16-year-olds Nicole and Brian. Bored with the party, Kevin talks Alex into going out on the town as Razor Kid to blow off some steam. While painting the town red, they’re confronted by “The Sons of Nowhere,” kids with powers from the other side of the tracks. A fight breaks out and the story concludes just as the fight heats up. This issue leaves us with a short story explaining “The Sons of Nowhere,” in which details are revealed intertwining Alexander’s fate with that of the aforementioned renegades.
Almand’s characterizations are strong and his characters are likable. Even the bad guys are dynamic. Using these infectious characters he’s created, Almand slowly drips out the details of his universe. It’s an aspect of the books that makes them both compelling to read and difficult to write about. I honestly have no idea who anyone is, where they are, when they are, or what any of them want, but that’s part of the fun. Things are mentioned repeatedly such as beings known as paranormals and the organization known as C.A.P.E. However, none of these elements are fleshed out in the slightest. This contributes to the compelling if not altogether satisfying nature of Almand’s work and, counterintuitive to my own story telling instincts, his approach works because there is, after all, strong forward momentum.
Razor Kid borrows liberally from Japanese comics and cartoons. The book’s most prominent Manga-derived element is its style of artwork which aptly represents the child like innocence of Alexander despite the horrors surrounding him and his friends. Despite that Almand’s team of artists changed almost completely between issues one and two, the style remains the same and it’s distinctly derived from the Japanese anime and Manga variety.
One of the few glaring weaknesses in the Razor Kid books is the occasional disorienting page that occurs throughout. The causes range from bad panel composition to characters just being indistinguishable from each other. However, I caught a few pages of the latest Razor Kid book entitled Kevin Michaels: Go for Broke on www.razorkid.com and it looks as if the art by Honoel A Ibardolaza is a drastic improvement over earlier artwork.
Marcus Almand’s creation is an anomaly of visual storytelling. It does things “wrong,” but not to the detriment of the reader’s enjoyment, it’s derivative while being wholly unique, and it’s completely indie, but is as high quality a product as anything that’s out there. If you’re a fan of fantasy/action with a Japanese flare, you’ll be well served to give these books a read. Razor Kid is comparable to early 1980’s TMNT and maybe even a bit reminiscent of NBC’s television series, Heroes. Almand has good reason to be optimistic because despite getting off to very respectable start, Razor Kid will only get better.
3 out of 5 flames
Review by Jason Thorson