I just recently finished reading issue 5 of The Mantle, which was put out by Ed Brisson and Brian Level through Image Comics. This book deserves a spotlight for a number of reasons.
One of the things that really piqued my interest in this title and made me pre-order this book is that it is the first superhero comic I’ve seen from writer Ed Brisson. I had previously enjoyed his Image series Comeback and have heard good things about sheltered as well so I thought I’d see how he wrote a superhero tale.
While I am not too familiar with Brian Level’s art, the previews that were released before issue 1 came out looked amazing. Throughout the series he often shows a few different styles to differentiate the different time periods of the wielders of the Mantle.
This story and the title relate to the idea that before issue 1, there have been various people with the power of the Mantle. This power has been transferring from host to host for decades and needs a new host when the previous wielder dies.
Unfortunately, we find out that none of the previous Mantles died of natural causes. In fact each new Mantle not only receives incredible power limited only by their imagination, they also receive a nemesis called the Plague who can find them anywhere and has a sole purpose of killing each new hero.
Luckily, each new Mantle is clued into their new status by a group of super humans who possess their own unique skills that pale in comparison to the Plagues super strength and ability to decay things. Their only way to fight back against this incredible foe is to prepare the new hero for the coming battle.
At the times where we see flashbacks Level’s art really shines in depicting comic book styles that were prevalent in the time periods depicted. From golden age to silver age to nineties style, he really captures the era.
The fight scenes are energetic and the smaller character moments really shine and do an amazing job of depicting our heroes’ plight.
One part of the creative team I have yet to mention is Jordan Boyd. His colors enhance Brian Level’s ability to tell the story and enrich every scene especially the ones that are other worldly in nature. His colors often perfectly set the mood and helped me to really experience the atmosphere and emotions of our heroes.
His work is the finishing touches on a beautiful product.
So what is the verdict on Brisson’s first superhero series?
In one word amazing! These first 5 issues show great world and character building that makes me want to pre-order any other tales that this team sets in this universe.
One character, Necra, opens up a terrific landscape where the current Mantle can meet with all that came before. This was a highlight of the series for me and a wonderful concept. While the Mantle is the title character, I would love to see more stories showing the history of the team that seeks out and aids each new wielder.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book. There are twists in the story that you won’t find from most publishers as well as some brutal moments. I tried to remain as spoiler free as possible because you really need to experience this story.
If you missed these issues in floppies and your LCS doesn’t have any on the shelf, make sure to pre-order the trade. You won’t be disappointed and I’m sure that you will be just as interested as I am for future stories of these characters.
Buy the trade. Put it on your mantle. This is a work of art by a team that meshed perfectly to bring you this story.