Publisher: Mad Cave
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Artist: Emanuele Parascandolo
Colourist: Michele Monte
Letterer: Joamette Gil
There’s a very familiar setup to Speed Republic. In a dystopian future there are special races put on by the dictator who rules it all as entertainment for the public and the chance for some of those downtrodden public to make a change in their lives or die trying. It’s not a new concept to those of us who have consumed a fair bit of media. However, there’s a nice human take on all this in Speed Republic. There’s a definite undercurrent of character which underpins what happens.
Our central character is Sebastian Valencia. Sebastian has family issues and responsibility issues. We get a strong feeling of this in flashbacks. They are neatly segued into the rest of the issue with a nice little reminder to Sebastian of familiar image and words jogging his memory, an event in the present reminding Sebastian of an event in his past. The flashback itself is coloured in a sepia tone which works well as a framing device to show that it is in the past.
Sebastian left home only to return some time later when his father is sick and dying from the water he is forced to drink. Ana, an old friend is helping out Sebastian’s father since Sebastian’s sister Shane left and Sebastian went after her. There’s a lot of family history and implications packed into a short scene as Ana berates Sebastian for more or less abandoning his father. It’s clear that family is still something that weighs on Sebastian’s mind.
His primary occupation, however, is the race and that does take up a fair bit of page time but in a good way. The cars are well drawn They aren’t anything special, just ordinary vehicles that ordinary people drive into not so ordinary race situations. Sebastian’s car stands out as it’s blue whereas most of the cars used in the race are red. It’s an easy visual way to tell Sebastian’s car apart from the rest. It would have been nice to see a bit more variation in the colours of other cars but this is minor.
The settings are interesting. There’s some traditional American iconography – the gas station, diner, all those road trip style tropes but this is contrasted with the European flavour of Sebastian’s home, the town at the roadside and the city of Paris which is nicely realised. Yes, we get a shot of the Eiffel tower because of course it’s Paris, but the street level detail is well done and quite interesting in itself.
Storywise there’s a neat little revelation at the end that should hopefully set things up for the future. There’s also a few dangling threads of introduced characters that hopefully have the potential to provide some interest in the future. It would be nice to see more of them.
Overall this is a first issue that sets up the world building nicely, a straightforward concept but solidly introduced. There’s plenty of potential here for something more than just a story about a race. The art is solid and the characters well drawn in all senses. It will be interesting to see more of what lies in the Speed Republic.