For starters, Sharp and McCormack introduce Captain Stone through a series of articles and clippings showing his exploits and his exploitation of his own persona. Considered a has-been and a douche (according to various characters in the intro), Sharp and McCormack cut to the chase by dropping a media bomb on the public, announcing that Captain Stone’s secret fortress has been blown to smithereens with him missing.
Your main character is missing and a bit of a jerk. That’s one hell of a way to get a reader’s attention. But it’s also bold and shows a pair of writers willing to take a risk that their reader’s will see the potential reward if they stick with the story. In an industry full of formula and meager expectations, it’s hard not to commend Sharp and McCormack for going out on a limb.
In some ways, this reminds me of how Alan Moore chose to use the Comedian to such great effect in Watchmen. Readers get an objective point-of-view on a crucial character while trying to piece together his significance to the larger story at hand. Only through flashbacks and how other characters discuss Captain Stone, does the reader see this imagined world come together.
All along the way, Sharp and McCormack make sure to poke fun at the superhero trope by inverting it on its head and subverting traditional conventions of superhero personalities. Then, there is the wry social commentary they make with mentions of sex tapes, chauvinism, and dysfunctional families as readers discover Captain Stone’s extended family.
One of the hallmarks of most Madefire titles to date is the slow burn of the storytelling. Sharp and McCormack are spending a lot of time making this story substantive and richer in detail than a traditional superhero story. Upon reaching this fifth episode, Captain Stone is still missing, but readers are starting to see Sharp and McCormack’s game of chess heat up.
Early on, the mentions of Captain Stone being a bit thick and a douche are starting to be seen more as red herrings. It is revealed early on in the fifth episode that Captain Stone knew that his father was Lord Charles Chance and his secret identity as the jewel thief the Craven Panther. This is a complete reversal in understanding of Captain Stone as readers see that he has carefully cultivated a false public persona.
Adding to the nuances of the plot, Sharp’s artwork has been slowly mimicking its twists with subtle changes in style that provide strong visual affirmation to the evolving and metamorphosing storytelling. His artwork on this title may be some of the finest in the medium past or present with his daring storytelling choices.
Madefire’s motion book tool has allowed a visionary artist like Sharp to make the characters and story come to life. His use of color also defies conventions with the arrangements of contrasting palettes and careful use of shadow.
It’s a rare talent that can develop a good story from the ground up and then go out and draw it like one of the masters. Sharp and McCormack make a great storytelling duo with him dazzling readers with each panel flowing into the next. Here’s to episode 6 of Captain Stone is Missing… and the revelations that await.