charlesmosteller's Jesus E. Lee #1 review

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    Jesus E. Lee #1 - The Hard Parade

    The Prologue

    Where to start? Why not, in the beginning?

    For me, the beginning was before I ever even knew that the comic book in question, Jesus E. Lee issue #1, even existed.

    I had the good fortune to happen upon the deviant.ART gallery for artist Nick Justus, and it was there that I first encountered the protagonist of his Jesus E. Lee comic book. Multiple pages from the comic book there on display, in all their inked glory.

    I became an instant fan of Nick Justus' inked artwork, and the Jesus E. Lee character on display there caught my eye, and just sort of grew on me. After a couple of weeks of thought, I decided to take the plunge, and purchase issue #1 of Jesus E. Lee.

    The Good

    The protagonist of the series is a colorful character, one named Jesus E. Lee. He's sort of a cross between Jesus Christ and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. For some, that might be a bit much to bite off, but if you're in the mood for something new in the superhero genre, this might just do the trick for you.

    Biblical overtones help to ensure that there's plenty of potential material to draw upon that is already recognizable to many readers, which bodes well for the future longevity of the title.

    A core part of comic books, in general, and of the superhero genre, specifically, is the art of exaggeration. Exaggerated powers, exaggerated threats, exaggerated characters. Both the Biblical aspect and the Confederate/Southern aspect at play in this title provide fertile fields for the imagination.

    The "Jesus connection" of the character is tactfully handled. The character reminds the reader that he is not Jesus Christ, but rather, Jesus E. Lee, during in-story dialogue. I think that it helps to underscore his human frailty, even as it denotes a reverential tone towards the "real Jesus" that Jesus E. Lee seems mindful of. Because the character makes that distinction, it makes identifying with him easier.

    Issue # 1 of Jesus E. Lee wastes no time injecting the star character into the action. By page # 2, the world starts going to Hell - which I think is a plus, for a new superhero title being published by an independent. While this approach does leave the reader with little time to identify with the protagonist, or to learn very much about him, at all, what the reader does not encounter upon flipping past the front cover is instant boredom. Something comes flying across the sky, there's impact and explosion, and Jesus E. Lee leaps straight into action. Now, that's what I'm talking about!

    The first half of the book has the best artwork helping it along.

    Did I mention the lettering? I really do like the lettering for the various action scenes. It increases both the visual appeal and the feeling of impact, when various scenes in the comic book are playing themselves out.

    One can only tell so much about a new superhero in their very first issue. However, more emphasis was placed on the "Jesus connection" than on the "Confederate General Robert E. Lee connection," and I think that the emphasis on Jesus E. Lee's miracle powers is the right approach. After all, he is a superhero, and a superhero's powers are what make for grandiose action from panel to panel.

    The star of this comic book faces more than one threat, in this first issue. I count that amongst its pluses. There's also some activity going on mid-comic, which isn't dealt with by the hero by the end of the issue. So, something else looms ahead, although issue #1 only provides a tease, of sorts. If you're "hungry" to learn what I'm talking about, then you'll have to ante up for the first issue, to see for yourself.

    Issue #1 in electronic format, which is what I went with, also contains several pin-up images of Jesus E. Lee drawn by other artists, as a special bonus at the back of the book. Even still, I think that Nick Justus, the creator of this comic book, renders the better variant of this character.

    I ended issue #1 still not knowing the full range and extent of Jesus E. Lee's powers - and I definitely think that that's a good thing.

    The Bad

    The coloring for this first issue, the issue that introduces the world to Jesus E. Lee in his own title, fails to do the character justice. The worst thing about the coloring job is that it detracts from the inked variant of the same work which preexisted it. In essence, the coloring did more to detract from the overall work than it did to enhance the work.

    The primary villain in issue #1 was a disappointment. I really felt sort of ho-hum about him, and if he never appears in a future issue, again, I won't shed any tears.

    The battle between Jesus E. Lee and the primary villain seemed rushed, as did the story, itself. Here I am, wanting to enjoy issue # 1 that I have waited a couple of weeks thinking about before making the actual purchase, and I came upon the end pretty darned fast.

    For many residents of Richmond, Virginia, Jesus E. Lee saved the day. Personally speaking, though, I think that the story could have been much better - and have done a much better job of building anticipation for the reader heading into the next issue, if he had failed.

    The artwork in the second half of issue # 1 provided far less detail and visual impact for the reader's enjoyment, compared to the first half. Since it was Nick Justus' artwork, itself - his skill and talent in rendering art for visual enjoyment - that enticed me into buying issue #1 of the Jesus E. Lee comic book title to begin with, suffice it to say that I was more than just a little disappointed that the artwork in issue one did not continually build into a visual crescendo. Sorry, but that's just what I wanted, just what I had hoped for. But, alas, it simply wasn't meant to be, it seems.

    One final observation for the bad side of the scale, one which is not a reflection on the comic book art or story, itself, but rather, on the medium through which I read Jesus E. Lee issue # 1. I made the conscious decision to purchase it in Kindle format via Amazon.Com. The Kindle for PC is better than Amazon's online Kindle Reader, but neither of them allow me to enlarge the comic book, as I would like to. In all likelihood, I will be very disinclined to purchase another comic book in Kindle electronic format.

    The Verdict

    In spite of my various disappointments with issue #1, all things considered, I made the decision to go ahead and purchase issue # 2 of Jesus E. Lee that very same day.

    I firmly believe that the character holds much potential for some really good story-telling going forward, and I suffer under no delusions about whether artist Nick Justus is up to the task of drawing and inking a character worthy of reading about and following the exploits of.

    Why the color copy isn't supplemented with a black and white copy, where the electronic format issues of this comic book are concerned, Jesus E. Lee only knows. Bluewater Comics does itself and its readership a huge disservice by not bundling B&W and color copies of Nick Justus' artwork together, where the Jesus E. Lee series is concerned. His inked work is more vibrant, and has more visual impact and energy, than the color job on issue # 1 reveals to the reader.

    The color and story-telling need to be cranked up a few notches, and while I will leave a review of issue # 2 of Jesus E. Lee for another day, I will say that it took a step in the right direction on both of the aforementioned counts, compared to what I saw in issue # 1.

    Remember, to err is human, to forgive divine.

    Accordingly, I forgive issue # 1 of its shortcomings, and look forward to continue supporting this title with my readership, for the foreseeable future. I encourage others to not be too quick to write it off, as I believe that the absolute vast majority of this character's potential remains untapped. Also, I definitely recommend PDF format over Kindle format, for those who favor electronic format over print format, where reading comic books is concerned.

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