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  • Words: Andi Ewington and Eddie Deighton
  • Art: Cosmo White
  • Inks: Cosmo White
  • Colors: Cosmo White
  • Publisher: Com.x
  • Price: $11.99
  • Release Date: Feb 15, 2012

Com.x set up the next chapter in the [Forty-Five]45 saga with admirable flair and panache.

Spinning out of 2010’s critically-acclaimed graphic novel [Forty-Five]45, BlueSpear follows the adventures of the titular Japanese hero who was first transformed into Tokyo’s protector after a boyhood boating accident. [Forty-Five]45 introduced us to an entire universe of new characters and a world where the Super-S gene can empower its inhabitants with supernatural abilities. In this first of three interconnected one-shots revisiting that reality, original creator Andi Ewington is joined by Com.x publisher Eddie Deighton on the co-writing side and artist Cosmo White on the visuals.

In [Forty-Five]45 we learnt how the lives of young brothers Yuji and Akira Tomikawa were altered forever when Yuji was believed drowned during a fishing trip. Under the sea, however, the lost boy underwent a mystical metamorphosis and became the heroic figure BlueSpear. The events of the BlueSpear one-shot pick up the story years later when the shadowy XoDOS organisation ally with Tokyo’s underworld to bring our hero down for their own nefarious reasons. Using his brother Akira as bait, XoDOS operatives Lotus and X look to acquire the mysterious spear that acts as the hero’s power source. But Akira is undergoing his own crisis as he attempts to come to terms with his brother’s distance and changed personality since he took on the BlueSpear persona…

Where [Forty-Five]45 examined the parent-child relationship – as journalist James Stanley explored the possibility of his child being born with super-powers and the potential repercussions for his family – BlueSpear touches on similar thematic ideas with a thoughtful analysis of the relationship between siblings. Akira and Yuji’s fractured bond becomes, in many ways, the central tragedy at the heart of the book; two brothers forever divided by one pivotal childhood moment that has changed both their futures irrevocably. It’s sensitively played, in a subtle and understated way that makes Akira’s sense of loss, guilt, and resentment towards the brother he feels has abandoned his family to his new identity all the more heart-rending.

Cosmo White’s art is a revelation throughout. It has an eerie and haunting quality which is enhanced by the distinctive colour palette he uses. There’s a manga-like atmosphere to the proceedings but it’s not an overbearing one. His layouts are sometimes restrained and delicate and, at other times, powerfully violent and uninhibited, displaying an impressively powerful range to his pencilling.  

BlueSpear is also a very handsome physical package. Remember the time in the 1980s when “Prestige Format” was a term used to describe a presentational approach reserved for the most deserving comics projects? At some point in the ‘90s that original philosophy behind the format was apparently forgotten and it seemed they became the near exclusive province of whatever Batman story had recently been discovered at the back end of the inventory drawer. With BlueSpear, Com.x has recaptured the original ethos of the prestige book, redeeming its raison d’etre and producing a sumptuous looking comic to house the next phase in the life of Ewington’s fictional reality. There’s something impressive, in a tactile sense, about the book that makes it an experience that could never be quite replicated digitally.

If you’re put off by the thought that this is a spin-off from a previous publication then don’t be. BlueSpear’s story from the OGN is reprinted here by way of introduction and this is an entirely accessible jumping-on point. Indeed, the [Forty-Five]45 universe succeeds in restoring those much-missed qualities of unpredictability and genuine sense of peril for its characters that the Big Two’s tedious cycle of kill-resurrect-kill-reboot has long since squashed on their own static properties.

What Andi Ewington created in that original graphic novel was a realm replete with exciting new concepts and possibilities. BlueSpear sets up the next chapter in that saga with admirable flair and panache. If you’re feeling disenfranchised by the current state of mainstream superhero comics then take a step into the world of [Forty-Five]45 and remind yourself of that long forgotten sense of awe and wonder they can evoke.

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