Overview

The Intrepids #1

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The Intrepids #1

Credits

  • Words: Kurtis J. Wiebe
  • Art: Scott Kowalchuk
  • Colors: Justin Scott
  • Story Title: "Mad Scientists are a Girl's Worst Enemy"
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 2, 2011

Chronicling the youthful misadventures of a motley band of augmented operatives mentored by a scientific genius, The Intrepids fails to blaze any new trails. A cross between BPRD and The Doom Patrol, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Scott Kowalchuk’s creator-owned property lacks any distinguishing elements to set it apart from similar, superior books.

Sure, all of the usual suspects of the popular horror-comedy sub-genre are present – a wise and brilliant mentor, an appropriately angst-ridden and quirky team of specialists, a bizarre, animal-machine hybrid menace, and the requisite arch-nemesis – but there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before in the pages of Hellboy. If you’re going to jump into this particular pool, you'd better be able to swim, because water-wings don’t really cut it in the deep end. You'll bob around a lot but you won't likely do more than tread water.

And the sad fact is, there’s not enough originality in The Intrepids to keep it afloat.

It’s a fact even the creators seem cognizant of, judging by the rather unnecessary qualifier stamped above the book’s title: “Mad Scientists are the Disease. Meet the Cure.” Yeah, not so much. So, the Intrepids have a narrower focus, than say Abe Sapien and the BPRD but what does that really mean? All other megalomaniacal, would-be world dictators now get a free pass? I realize I’m taking this into the realm of the ridiculous (now, there’s irony for you) but it really seems like an odd distinction to make.

Further hindering the appeal of The Intrepids is the sub-par, somewhat confounding artwork of Scott Kowalchuk. The key word here, is “confounding." I say this because, from the outset Wiebe expends considerable effort establishing the Intrepids as a group of wayward youths taken under the wing of the brilliant Dante. At no point throughout this first issue did I feel like I was looking at a bunch of kids. In fact, most of the Intrepids look downright old.

Now, I’m actually in a bit of a quandary, here. It would seem too grievous an artistic oversight to have rendered geriatrics in place of kids. Coupled with the fact that Chester, who looks like someone’s snowy-haired grandpa throughout this issue, sports a shocking red do on the cover, it’s hard to determine whether at least part of the blame for the resulting confusion belongs at the feet of the colorist.

Then again, Wiebe also seems to go out of his way to drop vague hints that all may not be as it appears with regards to the Intrepids’ true ages, so who knows? Or maybe I’m reading too much into the dialogue. Having said that, Kowalchuk’s sparse, underground artistic style doesn’t lend itself overly well to clarity or expressiveness. Maybe he was going for creepy when he designed Dante’s face but there are points during the story where the guy looks like a pedophile.

Suffering from a lack of creative clarity, craft, and originality, The Intrepids fails to live up to the promise inherent in its title, running over the same old ground rather than exploring new territory.

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