What Did I Learn?
I’ve been waiting for a chance to actually read Forty Five by Andi Ewington and I’m taking this opportunity to write a review on a pdf the folks at Com.X provided. Rather than repeat the obvious, I’m going to assume you’ve read at least one of the interviews and understand the basics. (If you want to read more of the interviews with Andi, you can start here.)
There is a Terminology page with about thirty terms; some of them you probably know like AWOL or HAZMAT but others are very creative like S-Book, Flambo and Norman. All of them make perfect sense within the setting context. There is also the nice touch by the use of the standard disclaimer: names-and-locations-have-been-changed-in-some-instances. It’s a small detail that added to the feel of the book.
The interviews are full of little things that make it feel more real, such as in the first interview that included good natured ribbing about the husband’s favorite sport team and the humorous bickering as the parents talk about choosing a name for their child. Still, deeper story things are handled very deftly with some hinted at and implied rather than bluntly tossed out there.
There are small triumphs, more than a few tragedies and some touching moments too. Forty Five is also full of candor. One person that the interviewer talks to is mad at the world and feels justified using their powers even if they hurt innocents. Another is a harried working mother who is just trying to do the best she can in her limited circumstances. Some are decent folks and some you might find yourself truly wishing they didn’t have super powers.
There are a couple of big things I unfortunately can’t talk about without spoiling them. Perhaps some other reviewers will not hold back and spill but not me. I can say there are plots and subplots, interested parties and different sides to every event described. A million potential story ideas flooded into my head as I read. No character or powers were cookie cutter or served as a Big Two replacement character even if they shared similar powers and the stories, while fantastic, were more real. One, whose power revolved around the number 21 – I’m geeking out in a Syndrome way about his potential.
At the end are some alternate artworks, concept sketches and a couple of bonus interviews. In addition to that, there are bios for everyone involved in Forty Five with their website addresses included. There are also a couple of well written forwards by Rob Patey and Jim Kreuger. I happened to like the latter more than the former but that’s just my take. There are a few coarse words and one not child friendly image, so be aware of that. And, of course, the art is exquisite. That goes without saying since you’ve probably seen all the previews.
What Did I Learn?
This is what happens when you have a great idea with just the right tone and perfect execution. It’s got a feel of the fantastic that a supers comic needs but it’s never allowed to control the work. It is always good to take the basic foundations of the tone you’re going for and make them your own. Supers comics do not have to be always have to be about the big fight. Even newspaper style gag comics can go above and beyond setup-punchline-joke once in a while. If you enjoy supers with a little something more, I recommend that you order watch out for Forty Five.