In the world of
7.5 out of 10
‘There was a hero once. Called
himself the Rival. And indeed it was his rivalry with criminals that ended
his life. His enemies had banded together, you see. Vanquished him. And
the small island city of Bettano mourned, for their protector was at rest.
A greater loss for a young spirited Sadie Thomas, who lost the love of her
life and her will to live. A year later, a hero in black is fighting once
more…yet Sadie still cries.’ That excerpt comes from the inside cover
to ‘Rival’ #1. What an interesting idea. A love story set against the
gritty, vigilante, superhero background.
I mentioned in my interview that
anyone with enough ambition, time and extra cash can put out their own
self-published comic book. But It takes a little more work to make it a
quality book, and it’s even more rare to find a self-published book with
as much originality, heart and execution as ‘Rival’. ‘Rival’ is
the latest from Tears Like Water Productions, headed by creator, writer
and artist Brien Cardello.
series makes its center around Sadie Thomas, a young girl dealing with the
death of her superhero boyfriend, who was the masked hero, Rival. It's a
darkly told story that takes place on the industrial island of Bettano a
year after his death. A new Rival has appears just as Sadie has been
trying to convince her friends her old boyfriend is alive. Its strengths
lie in the characterization of the people involved and less in the heroes
and villains, which usually take the spotlight. It's a schizophrenic,
action, romance with enough mystery to keep readers guessing.
shows a lot of promise as a writer and the story of ‘Rival’ and
dialogue within the pages is top notch. He manages to bring some fresh
perspective on old ideas and the concept of a woman still mourning her
deceased vigilante lover doesn’t sell itself out at any point. He
portrays Sadie as a strong willed woman with an emotional bond for her
lover and nothing less. We should be lucky to have woman portrayed as more
than sexual objects in need of rescuing in comic books.
downside with ‘Rival’ comes on the art side. Cardello credits the
artist as being Ollie Drac, but if you look closely at the name you’ll
find the true art is the responsibility of Cardello himself. The art
isn’t horrible and you can certainly do worse in the self- published
field, but it is the weak link in an otherwise ‘A’ book. Since comics
are a form that requires a balance between writing and art, it wouldn’t
be fair to push aside the art criticisms in favor of giving the book a
higher rating. But I did want to stress the fact that the weakness in the
art doesn’t detract too much from the story and this is a book I
couldn’t recommend highly enough. It’s a fantastic idea and hopefully
Brien’s hard work will get the positive attention it deserves. I
encourage everyone to seek this book out and see for yourselves what the
next generation of storytellers have lined up.
Cardello: Creator, Writer, Artist.
issue limited series. Available from TLW Productions. PO Box 140388,
Brooklyn, NY 11214.
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