Richard Henry Benson is The Avenger and he leads a roguish business known as Justice Inc. His most recent client has revealed a tale about The Ghost that sparks a fire under The Avenger as he sets out to determine the validity of the story. Is it good?
Justice Inc. The Avenger #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Mark Waid starts you right off in the middle of the action. Justice Inc. and The Avenger have tracked down an Italian mob boss who murders his victims in a melodic convention. It is an engaging sequence that portrays The Avenger’s leadership skills, his tactical prowess, and his talent as a face dancer. Not only does Waid introduce The Avenger, but he also exposes us to the camaraderie of his employees. Waid creates a serious yet playful tone with humorous dialogue interspersed among a knock-down, drag-out melee. Contrasting the playful manner of The Avenger’s teammates or employees is Waid’s use of exposition. He transitions from self-deprecating humor to dramatic prose.
The dramatic prose continues through the title page and into the real meat of the issue. Waid uses adjectives to great effect. Here is just a taste of what you can expect in Justice Inc. The Avenger: “The slow catastrophe of time has done its dread work on Bleek Street.” That conjures up super powerful imagery, and artist Ronilson Freire is up to the challenge. The street is downtrodden and abandoned. The wall in the background is beginning to see a large fissure develop and a lonely street lamp silently swings. I can only imagine it would be flickering if he was able to add any kind of motion.
Waid moves the story along using a discovery technique to at least partially introduce the people behind Justice Inc. Lucille Menter has discovered an unusual happening in her tenement and has set out to find The Avenger to hunt down the cause of her distress. Lucille ventures into the Justice Inc. headquarters, examining each of the team members and their corresponding roles and skills.
One of the few mishaps is the lack of motive for The Avenger and his team to pursue Lucille’s case. Benson jumps straight into the action, never questioning whether or not this supposed villain is really a villain. He has scared an old lady half to death, therefore he must be a villain. Benson charges in Rambo style. It doesn’t make sense. However, this lack of questioning does lead to creating quite a bit of mystery around “The Ghost.”
Freire’s art style captures the time period of the piece. The clothes he equips the Italian mobsters with are classic 1930s with long trench coats, three piece suits, and classy Frank Sinatra fedoras. The technology is definitely old school with a tiny tube television sitting beside a microphone.
Aside from the obvious time period costumes and props, Freire excels at the interior design of Justice Inc. It has a large staircase filled with paintings that transitions into a massive ballroom that doubles as a lounge area and science lab. It displays the wealth hidden in the rough. Some of the facial reactions Freire gives the characters are great. He captures Josh Newton struggling to guzzle down a slimy green concoction and Lucille’s look of sheer shock upon first encountering Richard Benson are spot on. Freire does struggle with a few of the action scenes especially depicting “The Ghost” running. It appears unnatural with his back bent over and legs appearing to be almost one behind the other instead of staggered.
Is It Good?
Justice Inc. The Avenger #1 is a fun and thrilling ride back to the past where Richard Benson and his Justice Inc. take on odd, almost paranormal cases. Freire captured the time period of the piece and does a good job with facial emotions. Waid’s writing is really the stand out in the issue. It is top notch. From beautiful prose to playful humor, he weaves them together seamlessly. If you are looking for some old school detective fun. Go and pick up Justice Inc. The Avenger #1.
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