Newstreet versus The Accelerati
Local heroes, don’t you love them? There’s much fun to be had tapping into something that isn’t so London/New York-centric, a sense of the fresh and new, especially when it’s done for the best of reasons, a love of the city, of the place. In the past few years there’s been a strong, stong Scottish publishing scene setting all manner of comics in Glasgow, Edinburgh et al, we’ve had Clifford & Bainbridge telling Geordie tales, alongside various tales out of Bristol and Manchester. But as a Birmingham boy I’m always pleased to see more tales of my home town. Which is why Newstreet appealed from the off, a hero based in Brum, named after one of the main streets.
Writer Matthew Craig is a Midlander with a real pride in Birmingham who’s already delivered one Brum based hero comic (Trouble Bruin), along with the very Black Country based Bostin’ Heroes. I’ve long enjoyed Craig’s particular brand of superhero comics, usually delivering a really pleasing mix of action and drama in and out of costume, where there’s a genuine emotion to the events. This latest comic from Craig sees him relinquishing the art reins to new artist Steve Roberts (co-creator of the autobio comic Fingers Crossed), to tell the story of Newstreet.
It’s a simple enough thing, with a sense of some of the innocence and simplicity of those early Marvel comics, something of early Spidey about it, the times where Peter Parker was every bit as important out of costume. Newstreet’s the latest Birmingham hero, Rajesh Ramani, just an average guy, forensic IT tech by day, superhero by night, helping keep the streets of the second city safe. He lives with his dear old dad (Hamish – ex-footballer, long story) after his mum died a while ago, and despite his best attempts, often just that little too desperate, there’s no love in his life yet.
In this adventure, Rajesh takes on the Accelerati, a gang of bike riding bank robbers, half of him wants to stop them, the other half wouldn’t mind asking them out for a date…
There’s much to enjoy here, Craig’s writing is its usual good thing, but there’s a feeling of being just a little too restrained here, Craig’s first comic in a while and one gets the idea he’s so invested in it he’s almost over-written it. The dialogue at times is just that bit tight, tense, stilted, the action a little bit jittery and stop-start as well. It’s one that’s full of promise, has a great concept of a local hero, and particularly pleasing, hasn’t bothered wasting time on some origin tale, this is one to jump straight into and pick up on the hop.
As for Roberts, there’s good and bad there as well, at worst it’s too rough, lacking a flourish that’s so obvious from that brilliantly inviting cover, but when it’s at its best there’s a free-flowing style, almost something of Crumb there in that ‘keep on truckin’ extended leg. So, all in all, it’s flawed, but full of potential, something to keep an eye on, see what the next issue brings.