Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sparta: U.S.A. #1

Wildstorm seems to pump out a lot of these miniseries with minimal promotion and no connection to any existing property, and it's no surprise that most of them get little attention. But sometimes they're quite good - I enjoyed Jeff Parker's Mysterius: The Unfathomable, and have picked up the debut issues of a few other series only to not be sufficiently hooked, or to just be unable to find the next issue.

Both might be the case with Sparta: U.S.A., written by David Lapham and drawn by Johnny Timmons, the first issue of which is a bunch of cryptic set-up leading to a cliffhanger that means little since the reader has pretty much no idea what's going on. The title location is a small town run by some sort of blue-skinned superpowered fascist, and a red-skinned rebel arrives at the end of the issue to liberate everyone. I guess this is Lapham's superhero allegory for the culture wars in America, or something, but its conflation of conservatism with supervillainy is sloppy, and despite a couple of creepy moments, the atmosphere is more silly than menacing.

Timmons' sketchy art does the job well enough, although the characters are a little indistinct. The main problem is that by the end of the issue there's still little sense of what this story is about, and the writing and art aren't strong enough to make me want to bother finding out.

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