Money is power, or at least it is until someone challenges the concept. With a creative team consisting of one person, Kaare Kyle Andrews, The One% is a politically fueled action-drama that plays off topical issues and portrays a world choked by the rich and powerful. Is it good?
Renato Jones: The One% #1 (Image Comics)
While the rich have increased their profits, “they’ve turned the middle class poor and the poor into convicts.” This world, or possibly our own unfortunate future, has been consumed by the uber-rich who treat the lower economic class as subhuman. Something has to be done to end this cycle. Enter Renato Jones, aka The Freelancer. Inspired by childhood tragedy, Jones assumed a vigilante role to correct the wrongs committed by the rich in a Robin Hood meets Punisher fashion. Under the façade of a fellow one percenter, Jones is able to infiltrate the aristocratic scene and exact justice upon those who abuse their power.
In this particular issue, we’re introduced to Jones’ backstory, including both his childhood and the events that led to the creation of his hero identity. These flashbacks surround the main storyline which portrays our antagonist assuming both of his roles as Renato Jones, the wealthy orphan who inherited his wealth, and the Freelancer, the mysterious and violent vigilante. The comic packs a good amount of action and while it’s prefaced as political dialogue, the series seems to use the wealth margin as a topical and fresh plotline rather than using it as an opportunity making a statement. What we have is an alternate take on a dramatic vigilante series.
The writing isn’t the most engaging, though it’s hard to properly assess with just one introductory issue. My biggest issue is the main villain of the issue, whose dialogue is so simple and exaggerated. Designed to be a classic example of the pompous, filthy rich man who was head of his frat back in college, the character uses the term “dude” a distracting amount of times. How many times you ask? Thirty-two times (yes, I counted). I understand you’re using a figure’s vernacular to convey their character, but it just became too obnoxious after a certain point and distracted from the overall story. Renato Jones himself relies on a number of vigilante-themed tropes, but set in a different environment than we’ve previously seen. There’s a small twist in his backstory which makes the character’s transition into a hero a little more unique than the others we’re familiar with, but for the series to stand out as a whole it’s going to have to rely on its artwork and character development.
The artwork is good and the panel arrangement deviates from a classic structure early on only to return to it shortly after. It’s only during the action sequences does Andrews get creative with the artwork and luckily there’s a lot of it in this issue. The use of shadows and negative space is really impressive and I’m hoping we get more of that in later issues.
Is It Good?
While this review may have gotten a bit nit-picky, I did enjoy the comic and loved some of the spreads and page setups. The One% attempts to deviate from the typical vigilante tale, but still relies heavily on traditional and overused tropes. The artwork is refreshing and I hope Andrews utilizes more of his darker panels because those are what make the series original. The jury’s still out on the series’ potential, but Andrews needs to continue to distance the plot from clichés.
Renato Jones: The One% #1 hits shelves May 4, 2016.