Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marineman: A Matter of Life and Depth

Last month, Image Comics released a trade paperback collection of the first six issue of Ian Churchill’s Marineman comic (the first issue of the comic originally appeared in December of 2010). Churchill does double-duty as both writer and artist on this book, with assists from Alex Sollazzo and Nichola Chapius on the coloring. The collection also features a forward by famed comic book writer Dave Gibbons, sketches, the original cover gallery and more.

This series tells the story of Steve Ocean, an all-American, handsome and charismatic marine biologist who hosts a cable television show Ocean Encounters. This dubbed “Marineman” has many fans, from hot young women who are looking to hook up with him to wide-eyed kids who want his autograph on their copy of the show’s DVD. But Steve also has some secrets, like the mysterious activities his US Navy commander father is involved with in a secret underwater base eighteen levels below the marine research center and the amazing abilities that allow Steve to do a lot more than your average marine-biologist-turned-TV-star.

Clearly Ian Churchill has a passion for the ocean and aquatic life. It comes through strongly on these pages, both in the details of the dialogue and narrative, and in his crisp, clean and amazing artwork. The colorists too add to the later, adding vibrant ocean blues and complex patterns like the camouflage at the end of the first chapter that really enhance the reading experience.

Similarly too is how well Churchill creates an amazing supporting cast for the book. Each has their own unique physical appearance and personalities that come through via their body language and speaking mannerisms. Lastly, he puts a lot of detail into the places in and around Ocean Point, one of the main settings for the book. Each building, each landscape, is rendered meticulously; he does not skimp on the backgrounds at all.

I didn’t feel like I was reading a comic book so much as I was watching a live action adventure.

If you’re tired of the grim and gritty that a lot of mainstream comic books have started to embrace, I would strongly recommend you give Marineman a try. I'm not saying the book lacks action; there is plenty of that. Churchill understands that a good comic book story does not always require graphic bloodshed or extreme titillation to be entertaining. Marineman is the type of adventures that made me a comic book fan over thirty five years ago.


Unknown said...

Doubly encouraging, considering how burned out by superhero comics you seem to have been lately.

Have you tried LOVE AND CAPES? I suggest sampling the first TPB. It's funny and witty and whimsical, satirizing superheroes while not hating on them (The Boys, anyone?). The story is like a sitcom or a romantic comedy, telling the romance of a regular shopgirl who gets involved with [essentially] Superman.

The artwork is fun, like Archie, DCAU, or old Captain Marvel stories.

Martin Maenza said...

I have seen Love and Capes but only an issue or so. I definitely should check it out.