12th Nov2015

‘Cap Stone: Volume 1 – Captain Stone Is Missing’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Christina McCormack & Liam Sharp | Art by Liam Sharp | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardback, 192pp

CapStone-v1-cover

Well this was a little bit different. Not necessarily ‘bad’ different you understand, just different. Cap Stone: Vol.1 – Captain Stone is Missing is the creation of Liam Sharp and wife Christina McCormack and has the honour of originally being one of the first motion comics, published by Madefire which Sharp co-founded. Returning now to the original visual medium of published comics, this Captain Stone collection collects together 6 issues plus a wealth of bonus material. If nothing else, it’s certainly great value for money.

The central conceit here is that this world has only one superhero, Captain Stone, who has disappeared while grimly warning everyone of an impending doom. His disappearance is deliberately kept mysterious but it is clear something happened that meant he had to voluntarily go. An interesting starting point for sure, but then Cap Stone fails to appear in the first part at all (if you fail to count the Watchmenesque faux magazine interview with him at the end) and we concentrate on other characters, especially a first person history of a father and daughter (Charlotte) with very important ties to Cap Stone. Charlotte’s story, especially, is set up nicely.

This was my first struggle. The first issue is incredibly important, as this dictates if a reader likes the setup and will return for more. By concentrating on a supporting character, albeit one we find out is important to both the plot and Captain Stone himself, you risk losing readers before the payoff begins. Personally I quite enjoyed it, giving some background to the characters and their world, but felt it a technical mistake from the point of view of the story as a whole. The story from then on develops quickly, but the quality of the story and the dialogue over the course of the collected six issue varies, a few high points but more low ones.

The story itself is certainly a unique vision, and the creators must be commended for that. A dash of super heroics, some political comment, pretty well written family drama, even a little of the supernatural. It is a ‘under the hood’ look at a superhero, how he is perceived and regarded, what he has to live up to, rather than the traditional approach. The dialogue is sometimes good, but sometimes there is just too darn much. It dominates pages that should be allowed to speak for themselves, and covers Sharp’s art, which is probably what most people are paying the entrance money for.

Speaking of the art, well Liam Sharp certainly went for broke with this. He throws in all sorts of styles, a big mash-up of every 80′s and 90′s comic book art style you have ever seen, always anchored though by a Sienkiewicz-lite ‘look’. Although Sharp clearly had fun expressing his artistic chops, it causes the reader great trouble. While many pages look great as stand-alone art (indeed, some are incredibly good) they just do not flow together very well. They do not help the narrative at all, just confuse things. They can be very jarring in the context of following an ongoing story. Great to look at though, can’t deny that.

I really like Liam Sharp, but just couldn’t really get beyond the obvious flaws here. You can hide a lot more flaws with a motion comic, because of the gimmick nature of it, but those flaws are actually accentuated with a comic book in front of you. I have no doubt the ‘moving’ art made the motion comic a great buy, but the static-ness of the art here is, ironically, its downfall. Pretty, yes. Effective storytelling? No.

Don’t entirely write this off though. A worthy experiment (did I mention that art?), and the collection gives you a whole bunch of extras such as essays, alternate covers, text pieces etc. As a collection it gets top marks. It just fails to deliver on a satisfying, worthwhile read.

**½  2.5/5

Cap Stone: Vol.1 – Captain Stone is Missing is out now from Titan Comics

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