COMIC REVIEW: Ian Churchills Marineman – A Matter of Life and Depth

 The Eisner nominated artist Ian Churchill is doing something incredibly brave with the creator  owned  book Marineman from Image comics. He is trying to sell an all-ages comic about a water based character. Always having had a soft spot for certain water based characters that have always been a bit of an underdog (although saying that Geoff Johns is kicking ass with Aquaman at the moment), I was curious to give it a try.

Let’s start with the art, because it refuses to be ignored. It is bright, colourful, cartoony, a little over the top and very pretty. Keeping in mind that this is aimed at an all ages audience, it does remind me of one of the old school Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch as a kid but with a little more quality about it.  The characters all have exaggerated physical properties which annoyed me a little at first but as you get immersed in the Marineman world it just seems to work.

The story is about Steve Ocean, a tree of a man, who is a television marine biologist, going by the name of Marineman. Steve has a secret which he has kept from his closest friends – he can breathe underwater, has super strength, an inbuilt sonar and webbed fingers. Oh and he works for the Navy. When this is revealed to the world it changes his life forever. His relationships change and he comes to learn a few secrets about himself and his origin that not even he suspected. The ensuing adventures take him to underwater bases, bring him face to face with criminal masterminds and pitch him into battle with strange underwater menaces.  The supporting characters are great from the aged Captain Nemoesque villain, to his best buddy who feels betrayed at being kept out of the Marineman aspects of Steve’s life.  It’s also really nice to see a well rounded ethnic minority in the main cast.

This comic is a joy, it’s easy reading even though at times it goes to places that may be a just a little dark for younger kids. It is also a real celebration of the sea and Churchills love for the ocean shines through. This comic does what comics did for me when I was a kid, it educates as well as entertains. I have learned so much about the sea and humans interaction with it since I started reading it. Churchills passion is also felt in the bonus materials. At the end of every issue is an interview with an oceanaut – someone whose job involves the ocean wether it be a marine biologist or a diver. Although this doesn’t engage me totally I think it’s brilliant that it’s there and would love to see that kind of thing in other comics.

As for the comics themselves I read the six issues which comprise the first trade, pretty much back to back. The first issue is pretty much all set up and I did think it was a bit dialogue heavy. The 2nd warms up a little but is still world building but by the 3rd the action really kicks in. In retrospect I think the slowness(and to be fair, it’s not that slow) is necessary and therefore makes this a better read in trade (although to be honest I think that about everything these days). I did love the ocean puns that made up each issues title – that just works for me.

Marineman is a great crossover comic as I know Churchill has been promoting it at diving shows and Marineman has already featured on the cover of a diving magazine.

Marineman surprised me as it was a much more enjoyable read than I was expecting and I found myself totally engrossed in the story.

Check it out at www.ianchurchillsmarineman.com

GS Reporter: Monts

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One comment

  1. Good review. It’s a terrific read. Enjoyable, relevent to the modern world and entertaining without ever being OTT or ridiculous (which it could have been in a lesser artist/writer’s hands). And it is so informative that it is close to being ‘non-fiction’ at times! 🙂

    It’s also made the shortlist of the 2012 Stan Lee Excelsior Award. See http://www.excelsioraward.co.uk for full details. 🙂

    Thanks, guys.

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