During 3 Rivers Comicon this year, I came across this issue of Hope, the newest comic series from Source Point Press and Dirk Manning, with K. Lynn Smith doing the art. Like, all the art. This comic is fully illustrated AND lettered by Smith. Holy banana pants.
Now, to my knowledge, this is the first superhero title by Source Point Press. Which is intriguing, because Source Point usually does horror. This is certainly Dirk Manning’s first superhero story. I know his name from a variety of horror comics across the years.
K. Lynn Smith is another name I know, from the webcomic Plume, which had a KickStarter to get the entire series in print. I really dig her art style, so I was intrigued to see where this series would go.
Right off the bat, I can say this: the story is (to me) not subtle about its coding. But let me explain the story before I go further.
Issue 1 follows a young woman as she’s in the car with her young daughter and her husband. They’re all listening to a radio segment about “unregistered Ultras” (Ultras being the name of super-powered humans in this universe). This leads the daughter to say she thinks that Ultras are cool, but this leads the husband to rail on about how dangerous Ultras are, using language like “We’ll be better off when – not if – they’re all either detained or depowered, or destroyed.”
Immigration. This comic is about immigration.
(RIP, comments section)
The first twist (and I feel comfortable writing this, because it’s revealed in the first 5 pages of this 20+ page book) is that the woman in the car is Hope, an unregistered Ultra. And the car accident that happens not only reveals her superpowers because she saves her daughter – it also knocks her husband into a coma. How convenient.
What follows is commentary about superheroes and how bystanders will just default to “you’re the superhero. Why should I call 911? You’re here.” There’s also a commentary about how Ultras are treated in this universe: they’re respected AND feared for their inherent abilities.
Now, some critics might say the immigration coding doesn’t work in this comic because of this notion that immigrants are helpless victims. It doesn’t really help much that our current media blitz talks about how immigrants at our borders are being tear-gassed and how mothers are having their newborn babies ripped out of their arms by the police.
What’s missing in the immigration conversation (I think) are the immigrants who are a part of the community as a whole: there are a whole bunch of immigrants who are doctors, crisis responders, military members, and yes, e-squad personel. And I think Hope, at least so far, is trying to approach the conversation from this angle; that immigrants/Ultras are powerful in their own right, but they’re here with the intent to help, not harm.
However, I have not read issue 2, so perhaps the coding could fall apart. It’s also possible I’m reading coding into this story that isn’t there. That’s all still to be determined. I’m intrigued to see where this series will go.
It also helps that the art for this series is very emotive. I’m REALLY glad the characters have such great body language and facial expressions, because it keeps my attention away from the fact that the backgrounds are very bare. Especially in the last handful of pages of this book, the backgrounds are sparse, if they’re drawn at all.
Most of the artistic focus is on the characters. It’s not bad – there’s enough background detail to denote setting and when set pieces have changed. But I would appreciate a little more detail. That hospital in the final few pages looks like an underground base more than it does a hospital.
Have you read Hope #1? What did you think? Let me know in the comments. And yes, I moderate the comments. So if you want to post a novel-length diatribe about immigration in the United States, do that on your own damn blog.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.