Hello internet. Last weekend I was able to attend the Dallas Comic Con and it turned out to be a lot of fun. There were some great guests there like Amada Conner and Kevin Conroy as well as some cool independent comic creators. Some of these creators were Mark Shmidt and Vince Chutter who started Stratum Comics and their first title, The Threat. I figured since Under the Radar is all about showing off comics most people overlook I thought that they’re book would be a perfect fit.
The Threat is a not too distant future story set in Houston where the world governments have effectively fallen apart, leaving corporations to come in and buy up whole cities and run then like independent kingdoms. To add some chaos to an already bad situation, there is a genetic disease that is affecting the city and a cure exists, but it does so much more than heal the sick. It gives them superpowers. Those who have powers are called Virals and their powers are random, and sometimes utterly useless, but they’re enough to cause problems for Anitec, the corporation running Houston.
The story takes many points of view. One is that of Michael Swaj the owner of Anitec and his journey of creating a cure and trying to contain the problems it created. Another is Nathan and his friend Kevin who were just trying to make it in this new world when Kevin’s powers suddenly manifested. So they start using Kevin’s powers to their advantage by turning Robin Hood and stealing from Anitec and giving to Houston’s ever growing Viral refugee community. Then there’s James Givens, a Viral who is also the leader of Anitec’s special Viral security unit and Dominic Andrews and all we know about him is that he’s not what he appears.
Though an entertaining read with lots of good art and potential, The Threat is really rough around the edges. From page one you’re bombarded with a massive amount of information with little context to make sense of it all. The only thing that really grounds the series so far is the opening monologue but outside of explaining Anitec’s role and hinting as to how big of a story Mark and Vince are trying to tell it doesn’t give much to go on. Time is also another confusing factor in that it doesn’t seem to flow naturally in this story. On minute the story is in the future, and then in the present, then the not too distant future, and then the distant past. More than once I got lost when flipping from one page to the next because these shifts are so sudden and close together. Still there is a nice synopsis at the beginning of issue two that puts everything into a more understandable perspective so you’re not lost going from issue to issue.
I’m excited to see where this is going and admitantly I am being more forgiving of this than a mainstream because I know it’s just a couple of guys doing the best with what they have.
Final verdict: Took Two and I’ll Call in the Morning .
You guys can check out The Threat at the Stratum Comics website or, if you’re in the DFW/Houston area you can find it in select comic shops.
Till next time I’m The Writing Writer.