Clash #1


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Clash #1


  • Words: Greg Karras
  • Art: Cory Hamscher
  • Inks: Cory Hamscher
  • Colors: Lori Johnsen, Wally Lowe, and Barry Williams
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Moonstone Books
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Aug 15, 2007

CLASH is the Citizens League Against Super-Humans, a team of gadget-based non-powered guerillas that fight for liberty in a world overrun by meta-human despots.

New York City is now New Zarathustra, a metropolis made by The Protectorate, a body of costumed super-men that have created a totalitarian utopia for those who want it.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world has been ruined, with living conditions proving supportable only within the superpowers’ oppressed city, marking the illusion of choice merely that.  But a band of would-be non-powered heroes have decided to offer a third choice: freedom in the truest sense of the word.

Clash is a brilliant idea, a sort of sci-fi vs. fantasy conceit, or in other words Batman vs. Superman, hyper-reality vs. not-at-all-reality, may the best concept win.  Its dystopian backdrop is a classic one, possibly even an overused one, with a post-apocalyptic vista couched by post-Watchmen characters.  And yet, don’t enter this epic expecting flavors similar to Moore, or Ellis, or Morrison, or anything remotely like previous British-begun zeitgeists.  Instead, with characters sporting names like Shrapnel, Knave, Slab, Apex, Mezmer, and Alekto, and further colored by such measured text as “Baby, if that’s your idea of foreplay…sign me up now!”, Clash is a book wholly influenced and informed by early 90’s American spandex a la X-Force, Brigade, Youngblood, and Cyberforce.

Writer Greg Karras, who I believe is the same Greg Karras as the owner of Galactic Greg’s Comic Shop in Valparaiso, Indiana, has begun his pro-writing career by penning Clash, a script that’s admittedly entertaining, but one so much in love with early-90’s pastiche that it isn’t a homage, or a nod-to, because it isn’t an update of any kind, but rather a complete anachronism.  If you feel nostalgic for those founding Image titles of yore, or such now-classic company lines like Milestone and The Ultraverse, then Clash should be a welcome new mini-series.  However, be warned: it’s a total throwback, and it utilizes fifteen-year-old melodramatic clichés as though they were Shakespeare, without so much as half-a-tongue wandering anywhere near a knowing cheek.

That said, this is a solid first issue, with a story easy to digest and character types suiting to the plot’s ambitions.  There are a number of clever, sweetly unique touches, such as a lone Punisher-esque character who works against the meta-humans but does so in merciless ways, heedless of innocents and collateral damage alike, and therefore works against the aims of CLASH as well.  This adds a much-needed third dimension to what’s more or less a morality tale of power and corruption; it’s not a shockingly deep one, but it helps.  There are additional 90’s elements beyond the names and dialogue, such as a shadowy and mysterious stranger whose allegiances are unknown and whose motives even more so (what 90’s comic would survive without an unknown-identity wildcard?).  Overall, the plot is well worth sticking around for, hinting toward a slew of story to come, but the characters are pure cardboard cut-out, and the execution will please only those readers still infatuated with overly simplified, out-of-date techniques.

The art by rising star Cory Hamscher is very attractive, a skill he’s already proven over at Marvel’s Marvel Adventures line of all-ages comics.  He wields a technique both sketchy and blocky like Ron Frenz as inked by Sal Buscema, and as Hamscher pencils and inks his work, the final result is akin to that very duo, which wonderfully complements the old-school sensibilities of the story.  Sadly, Hamscher is onboard for this one issue alone, with a new artist taking over for the remaining four issues starting with #2.  So enjoy Cory while you can.

The 90’s encapsulated my high school days, a time in which I read comics voraciously, and loved everything the medium produced - even the Clone Saga!   I’ll forever love those stories, yarns that were often horrendously handled and/or editorially bastardized into things not fit for living beings with a second brain cell to rub against the first.  Nevertheless, I feel that Clash needs to find a more considered foundation to build upon style-wise, if ever it hopes to find and keep a stable audience.  The 90’s were a memorable decade for comics, but not one that should be envied and certainly not repeated.  The stories of the time were tracing-paper thin, their characters unworthy of the term “character,” and the concepts as ludicrous as any manga, minus those foreign sagas’ philosophically-entrenched point and purpose.  They were, quite frankly, products of their time, and sub-par on so many artistic levels due to the medium’s growing pains.  If the Golden Age was a beautiful baby boy, and the Silver Age a lovable wild child, the 90’s were ugly, awkward puberty.

So a great idea, and likable execution, but mired in styles long past their prime.  Here’s hoping Karras can bring forth something meatier in the near future, and salvage this wonderful premise.


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