Created/Written by: Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs
Farmington Art by: Tony Fleecs
Farmington Colours by: Brad Simpson
Third Gen Art by: Tim Seeley
Third Gen Colours by: Felipe Sobreiro
Published by: Image Comics

Although I’ve tried to get into it many times over the years the original Image Comics series – Youngblood, Spawn, Savage Dragon – just aren’t really for me, and on the whole even the rebooted versions haven’t been either, well with the exception of Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s Glory series. Yet I’m always optimistic that any new series drawing on that original Image starting point will appeal to me, so coupling that with my existing interest in Tim Seeley’s work it was pretty much guaranteed I’d be interested in Local Man #1.

This first issue follows Jack Xaver, Crossjack, as he returns to his hometown Farmington after exiting the superhero team Third Gen. At this point we don’t know the reason Jack left the team, but all hints point toward some kind of controversy involving him that has him on the outs not only with his former teammates but also just about everyone in Farmington.

While we’re introduced to a handful of supporting characters throughout Local Man #1 it’s only Jack that we really get to spend a decent amount of time with. His interactions with old friends, old enemies and family help to paint a fuller picture of who he is and a little glimpse into who he was before becoming a superhero. There’s a recurring feeling throughout the issue that Jack’s both misunderstood and ignored by those around him. The fact that all the characters interacting with Jack know more of his backstory than we do, makes it seem like not many people are willing to give him the time of day, which makes him a more sympathetic character, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that the other foot is going to drop at some point.

Tony Fleecs’ artwork in this issue fits the story perfectly, showing Farmington in all its gritty, small town glory, while creating believable visuals for the characters we’re presented with and a good depiction of emotion through character body language and facial expressions. I feel like there’s similarities with That Texas Blood and Southern Bastards in both the art and the story telling which isn’t a style we often see when dealing with superheroes. However the designs of Crossjack and the other members of Third Gen feel heavily inspired by classic Image books, which creates an interesting balance between outlandish superheroes and their down to earth backdrop.

In the backmatter for the issue we see Crossjack’s first mission with Third Gen which is both written and illustrated by Tim Seeley. In contrast to the main story Seeley’s art presents a story much more in keeping with what you might have in mind when you think about that early wave of Image books. While it’s not an art style that every reader will love these days, it feels like a fitting homage to the ‘90s comics that have influenced Local Man, and the narrative feels like a critique of the sometimes flimsy storytelling of those early series, while also feeling quite meta in the way Jack airs his own confusion towards the mission they’re on.

We’ve seen plenty of promising independent superhero stories in the last couple of years, Frontiersman, The Blue Flame, and Crossover come immediately to mind, and I each has covered territory that more mainstream superhero books might not be able to. It’s hard to say just where Local Man is heading after only one issue, but with a great creative team and an interesting premise I’m eager to see where Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs will take Jack’s story.

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