|Review by Clay N Ferno|
The Kickstarter video for Apama explains the origin of our favorite new super hero story.
Hero Tomorrow was a film project screened at New York Comic Con in 2009. Since then, the animalistic hero did a backflip into the pages of comic books themselves.
A successful Kickstarter, ComiXology Submit issues and a Cleveland origin story that rivals Segel and Shuster combined with amazing feedback for the overall project bring this hardcover collected edition to the masses.
The creative team of co-writers Milo Miller and Ted Sikoro and artist Benito Gallego have an awesome independently funded and fun Bronze Age style tale on their hands.
Comparisons can be made from Animal Man and Concrete to Iron Fist and Ka-Zar with Apama: The Undiscovered Animal Vol. 1.
Apama is set against the backdrop of modern day Cleveland, Ohio where our soon-to-be hero Ilyia the ice cream truck driver is having typical malaise. He’ll never get the girl, his parents are dogging him about doing something with his life and his boss makes the joyful act of selling ice cream somehow miserable.
One day while hiking in the woods, Ilyia chases a Native American ghost, trips and falls and has the strangest dream about animals facing off against each other.
In the end, an animal called Apama, an ancient, unfamiliar and mysteriously powerful beast with unique markings.
When Ilyia awakens, he finds his way to a cave adorned with paintings and a shrunken corpse. Perhaps the power of Apama comes from this place.
He takes an ancient scroll and some cave clothes home and mediates on his dream and new discoveries to find the answers.
The supernatural cave origin is both new and familiar, referencing Captain Marvel or Concrete.
After nearly a hundred days of investigating and meditating on his scroll, he throws on the clothes and BLAMMO — Ilyia has the power of Apama flowing through his veins.
As strong as a gorilla and with the instincts of a lion, he hits the streets.
Another great power (á la Aquaman or Animal Man) is Apama’s ability to speak with the animals.
Our would-be Dr. Doolittle doesn’t get far arguing with a stray cat (few do) but does befriend his pet rat that becomes somewhat of an advisor or sidekick.
What makes this more of a Marvel-type story is the feet of clay day to day tribulations of someone discovering their powers.
Ilyia doesn’t quite have the ‘Parker luck’, but does daydream at the end of the day and ponder what he can do with these newfound abilities.
And, let’s face it, Ilyia and Peter may have a lot in common when it comes to dealing with the ladies.
Also, in true Marvel Manner, the issues collected in this first volume don’t shy away from the action or deconstruct the page.
Quite the opposite.
This is good quality, high in Vitamin A (Action) comic book story telling. Issue #2 introduces a great villain in the form of Lawn Mower Man.
Issue #3 comes with a more formal costume for Apama with the help of a former Project Runway contestant but also things start to get a little more cosmic and strange as an alien threat makes it’s presence known. Apama takes on a drug dealer in his most public appearance yet, and public opinion is starting to be formed about our animal man.
The action packed volume concludes with some major changes for Ilyia and Apama as his powers take a more mystical flavor and the psychedelic hippie Regina makes her presence known.
Regina is the high-priestess of Hell-town, and could be the most fearsome friend or foe yet! All to be revealed in future issues and the promise of a Regina spin-off book.
Backmatter is full of process — from script to page and variant covers from Fred Hembeck and Flaming Carrot’s Bob Burden. Writer Ted Sikora also is the letterer and colorist for the book, and takes us through some of how he works.
Apama is respectful of its hometown of Cleveland’s comic book creation history as well as bringing a new kind of story to the people. It is great to see creative ideas being carried out with such care and vision — with a universe that is unique and able to grow!