Looking at Iron Saint it's hard not to be a bit judgmental.
Written and created by Jason Rubin, one of the guys behind Jak &
Daxter and Crash Bandicoot, youíd expect a similar story,
maybe something like Atomic Robo thatís fun and witty. After
the first few pages of this collected trade those predispositions go
right out the window. Iron Saint is a head stomping, jaw
breaking, blood soaked story filled with religion, vice and a good
dose of awesome.
Michael Iron works for the Syndicate, an organization of gangsters
headed up by Big Daddy. The Syndicate are in a war with the
Government and the Order, the religious influence on the alternate
universe 1930ís metropolis Iron Saint is set in. Michael,
with the strength and endurance of five men due to the rOid 4.0
program, is Big Daddy's lead enforcer in this war. Michael enjoys
legendary status as an unstoppable force and Big Daddy treats him
like a son, making him almost untouchable. When a job goes wrong and
Michael is set-up by Sweet Joey Petunia he is not only wanted by the
police, but by the Syndicate as well.
The story is fairly familiar. A deal goes wrong, some people die and
there is a thirst for revenge and a hope of clearing ones name. The
protagonist then undergoes a change where he reevaluates his life.
They are fairly standard premises, but itís the world Rubin has
created and filled with so many details and the people heís
populated that world with that make Iron Saint feel like a
refreshing and enjoyable reading experience. If Rubin tried to tell
the same story in a more realistic setting it would be boring and
dated. Throw it in a crazy alternate 30ís metropolis with drug
enhanced mobsters at war with a Church armed to the teeth and youíve
certainly got something thatíll grab peopleís attention.
The array of characters Rubin has populated Iron Saint with
is definitely a strong point of the comic. All the gangsters have
nicknames and a cool backstory, Angel Chase isnít exactly what she
seems and Michaelís only friend, Mushmouth, is as crazy and
memorable as he is. You are always eagerly anticipating the
introduction of a new character.
Of the characters Michael is probably the best. Rubin has managed to
make a bruiser, based off of 80ís action heroes, a really
interesting character. His dialogue and narration is smart and well
written with his comments on the similarities between religion and
gambling particularly insightful. Iím glad that while Michael shares
the combined physique of Arnie, Sly and Dolph heís streets ahead in
terms of being an interesting and engaging lead character rather
than a collection of manly groans and grunts.
Iron Saint also
grabs your attention from the get go. There's no slow buildup, Rubin
establishes the intense tone of the comic early on through Michaelís
actions. The pace is unrelenting the whole way through and it will
leave you disappointed when itís over because youíll race through
it, but still have many unanswered questions.
Comic book reviewers say this a lot but it really is true here,
Iron Saint contains some of the best, most intense action you'll
see. I can't quite put my finger on it, whether it's the liberal
flow of blood or the powerful nature of Michael's actions (he can
obliterate someoneís jaw with his fist) but itís gripping, amazing
and oh so cool. The combination of Michaelís raw power with a
variety of themed mobster hitmen also means Iron Saintís
action is always different and able to surprisise you with some new
Ďoh snapí moments in every fight.
lot of the brilliance of the action is due to the fantastic artwork
throughout the book. Thereís just so much detail in every panel and
even though theyíve gone for some characters that look like theyíve
come straight out of a twisted cartoon the backgrounds and
environments look very real. Every shot of the city is filled with
detailed buildings and thereís none of that blurring or coloring of
the background, except for when itís necessary to show speed or
force. The colors and the artwork are all very clear and clean,
making it a very sharp book. One of the standouts of the series is
the way theyíve captured light in the images. Flicking through the
book thereís a lot of variation in the darkness or brightness of the
pages depending on where the scene is taking place. The only
downside is the proportions of some of the rOid characters like
Michael. On the whole they remain in proportion but on occasion they
appear to grow or shrink in size, compared to other characters.
Iron Saint is a
glorious combination of the mobster and science fiction genre. Sure
it relies on a tried and trusted storyline but the alternate
universe, which combines the two genres, is a fantastic setting that
really helps the story standout from the crowd. Youíll love the
crazy cast of characters and the crazy awesome action that goes with
them. Something you should definitely check out.