Marineman #1


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Marineman #1


  • Words: Ian Churchill
  • Art: Ian Churchill
  • Colors: Ian Churchill with Nicolas Chapuis
  • Story Title: Ocean Encounters
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Dec 2, 2010

Ian Churchill enters the creator owned market with this throwback to Silver Age heroes.

Marineman, created by comic book professional Ian Churchill (Hulk), is a labor of love from the first page all the way to informational back matter. One can only imagine how big a fan of oceanography Churchill is to have created a book that can practically be used educationally for kids wondering about the deep blue. This sense of wonder is at once Marineman's greatest strength and biggest weakness.

Following the oceanic adventures of television personality Steve Ocean (also known as Marineman), the story concerns itself mainly with a prologue about free diving gone wrong, marine life facts and exposition of the main characters. Some of the information is presented in a slightly lazy way, but reads incredibly well as an all ages book. Aside from a few suggestive bits of dialogue from the comic relief sidekick, this story certainly aims to be educational.

Steve Ocean appears to be a normal man in peak physical condition. He wears a brightly colored wet suit with a giant "M" emblazoned on the chest, but doesn't appear to possess any extra or super abilities. At least he doesn’t yet. After the establishment of Steve's ordinary world, filled with conventions and aquarium appearances, the story kicks into overdrive featuring secret government bases and high tech ocean gadgetry. As soon as the excitement about where this is all going begins to set in, the issue is over. If there is only one real gripe with the entire affair it's that it builds momentum, only to end without a single question answered. It is two dozen pages of set up and the bare minimum of pay off. Marineman is entertaining in a nostalgic and Silver Age kind of way, but little is earned thematically beyond tone upon conclusion of the first chapter.

The art is beautiful and vibrant, eliciting bright emotions. Churchill takes great effort with his style and form. There is a real and palpable sense of wonder and amazement when he presents factual and interesting knowledge about sea life. It's a contagious excitement that only shines in spots but sadly doesn't carry throughout the length of the book. The pencils are tight, designs creative and tone nostalgic. Art wise, this book is spotless and some of his best work. It's a pity that the accompanying story doesn't succeed as fully.

The tone Churchill seems to be aiming for, that of a whimsical, nostalgic and colorful era, is obtained. Unfortunately, though, as a story and package that feels complete, it narrowly misses the mark. As an educational comic, Marineman succeeds in sharing interesting facts and oddities of real marine biology. At the end of the day, this is a wonderfully realized all ages book that infuses facts into the popular fiction that is comic books. There is enough promise within these pages to make for an exciting world, just not enough to sustain this first chapter. Churchill’s labor of love is brimming with just enough colorful charisma that a second issue becomes a necessary read in order to assess the true success of Marineman. Here’s hoping that future installments can capitalize on what works and find a punchier pace.

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