In a world where comic book stores are over-saturated with superheroes, one hero will rise to defy convention and become the hero readers truly deserve. Impossible Jones is … not that hero. But frankly, she kinda owns her less-than-heroic behavior, and this debut issue, while wildly derivative, is an awful lot of fun. Taking place in a world where superheroes are commonplace, our title character is a kind but morally-ambiguous thief who has managed to become New Hope City’s premiere hero, despite refusing to leave her criminal past behind. Impossible Jones has already garnered some attention thanks to this past summer’s successful Kickstarter campaign, and now she’s finally ready to hit the shelves and steal your heart.
Writer Karl Kesel (Gotham Academy) has created a fun new character in Belle, a thief-turned-superhero who is equal parts Catwoman and Ant-Man, while her powers are an insane mash-up of Mr. Fantastic’s stretchability and the logic-defying antics of “The Mask.” These–dare I say–impossible shapeshifting abilities are utilized in clever and increasingly crazy ways. In the opening panels, our hero emerges from a billboard featuring her own image. Shortly thereafter, she subdues a couple of criminals by transforming her hands into giant revolvers, which in-turn extend out back into fists to punch them out. It’s ridiculous and awesome at the same time.
The art by David Hahn (Private Beach, Midnight Western Theatre) is just spectacular. Along with fantastic colors by Tony Aviña, the entire issue is bright and colorful with an aesthetic that evokes Mike Allred’s early Madman comics or Colleen Coover’s Bandette. My earlier comparison to Catwoman doesn’t stop with Belle’s thieving –with short and spiky dark hair and a mischievous smile, she resembles Selina Kyle in more ways than one. The rest of the cast, both hero and otherwise, has a similar aesthetic with simple, subtle costume designs that just … pop!
While this debut issue is very easy on the eyes, there’s a substantial amount of world-building in these 32 pages, which means there’s a lot to unpack. After Belle’s initial encounter with the Christmas-themed villain Holly Daze, the narrative jumps back in time, revealing the incident that caused her transformation and introducing us to a number of New Hope City’s other citizens. What follows are scenes featuring other heroes mostly just … talking, while the title character ends up sitting out for most of this issue’s second half. The non-linear structure allows Kesel to peel back the layers of Impossible Jones’ origins while still leaving some secrets to tell later, but it still feels a bit jumbled. There’s even a flashback within the flashback!
Despite the occasionally complicated narrative choices and a couple very bizarre character moments, this is a solid introduction to an exciting new world with familiar archetypes and clever mash-ups. Thanks to the witty dialogue and beautiful art, this latest offering from Scout Comics was pretty much impossible to put down and has enough subtext to warrant multiple readings (I’ve already read it twice). It may not be perfect, but if the last scene is any indication, Impossible Jones may be a worthy addition to your pull-list.