Art by: Kevin Stokes (pencils) and Adam Markiewicz (inks)
Colours by: Tony Washington (interiors) and Jeremy Cox (cover)
Letters by: Comicraft
Cover by: Kevin Stokes
Published by: Arena Comics
Cover Price: $9.99 (USD)
Stalwart is the world’s only superhero; he is tall, strong, has dark hair, blue eyes and he lives and operates in Los Angeles. Master Mayhem is the world’s only super villain; he is tall, strong, has dark hair, blue eyes and he lives and operates in Los Angeles.
Just to be clear, this isn’t me complaining about how similar the two protagonists are. The premise of Splitsville is that the only superhero and super villain in the world are the same man, but that man just doesn’t know it. It’s a great place to start a story that is entertaining and has much promise.
It’s a lot of fun seeing how the two different sides of personality affect each other. While Stalwart complains about having to work harder and harder to stay in shape, Master Mayhem is stuffing himself with doughnuts and praising his metabolism. Stalwart/Master Mayhem is the best example of a man getting in his own way.
The comedy is good and it is fun when it is revealed that the respective sidekicks of Stalwart and Master Mayhem are the only ones who know the truth and are using their super powered friend for financial gain.
The tension arrives however when Blast Cap, a new female super hero, begins to help people in Los Angeles too. The conflict that arises between Blast Cap and Stalwart threatens to destroy the sidekicks’ elaborate charade, setting up the second issue well.
Stokes and the rest of the art team do well throughout too. The characters have exaggerated appearances, with Stalwart’s body looking even more unrealistic and unattainable than Blast Cap’s, which makes a change in a superhero comic. The art very much fits the tone of the writing, with Stokes and co being able to handle the robot fight scenes and the moments of humour with equal aplomb.
I feel I should say a little about the format too, as it is different to most publishers. Arena follows a more European approach, releasing their titles in hardback instalments with extra content in each issue. This edition contains some script pages, pin-ups and character sketches. It’s nice to have these extras and the concept sketches are particularly interesting to see how certain characters changesd from design to finished issue.
Overall this comic has plenty to offer, with a great concept, action, humour and extra content; and the art team do a great job of keeping everything vibrant and appealing. On the strength of this first issue, I look forward to seeing how Splitsville will develop.