“Simply put: Marvel and DC should take note of the pairing of Delsante and Isaakse; Stray is a traditional superhero comic that is properly constructed. Stray #1 excels because it doesn’t bare any bones about what it is; it’s an homage to the types of time-honored stories that draw most readers to the medium in the first place.”
Publisher: Action Labs Entertainment
Writer: Vito Delsante
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Ross Campbell & Simon Gough
Letterer: Vito Delsante
“Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.” – Charles Dickens
The act of making comics can be quite arduous. The process is a labor of love that very few successfully navigate to the point that their creations are printed and sold to the market-at-large. Vito Delsante can probably tell some pretty frustrating stories about his trials and tribulations as an up-and-coming creator of comics. This week, however, Delsante, along with artist Sean Izaakse, hit the jackpot with the successful launch of their latest project, Stray, from Action Labs Entertainment.
[Editor’s Note: It should be noted that Stray was a successful Kickstarter project prior to being picked up by Action Labs.]
Stray is rock-solid storytelling; it’s dynamically paced and it energizes a familiar concept with the fresh voices of Delsante and Izaakse. Stray #1 treats readers to a story that is unique and familiar at the same time; the time-honored concept of a crime-fighting hero and his trusty sidekick, in this case, Stray focuses on a father-son duo of the Doberman and his young crime-fighting charge, Rottweiler. Delsante navigates the familiar concept with deft scripting and a fast-paced introduction to the two characters; Izaakse’s work is clean and easy to follow. The back story evokes a refreshing, nostalgic feeling of innocent superhero comic books from the Silver and Bronze Age.
Simply put: Marvel and DC should take note of the pairing of Delsante and Izaakse; Stray is a traditional superhero comic that is properly constructed. Stray #1 excels because it doesn’t bare any bones about what it is; it’s an homage to the types of time-honored stories that draw most readers to the medium in the first place. It feels good in the way that Batman and Robin feel good…or Cap and Bucky. Delsante’s sincere love for the superhero genre is palpable as he guides readers through the set-up of his larger narrative.
Without spoiling much, Doberman and Rottweiler’s story progresses in non-linear fashion, flashing to various times in their partnership as the young sidekick matures as a hero only to discover that his mentor is brutally murdered. Delsante’s grown protagonist, Rodney Weller, is certainly rough around the edges in comparison to his younger self that appears in flashbacks.
Sean Izaakse’s work is very reminiscent of the work of industry veteran Mark Bagley. It has a certain energetic movement that matches Delsante’s very well-paced narrative. Another great aspect of Izaakse’s clean style is how well his work is differentiated by the use of two colorists, Ross Campbell and Simon Gough. Campbell’s work in the retro/ flashback sequences are brighter and simpler whereas Gough’s pallet is varied and darker. The two time periods are easily discernible for the sake of the split narrative being told. It certainly gives Stray an extra sense of refinement that enhances the overall experience of the first issue.
If you’re tired of the convoluted, hermetically curated superhero comics coming from the Big Two, Stray #1 is the sort of comic that creates a fresh, engaging experience for a younger teenage reader or a nostalgically compelling tale for the purist adult reader. In a market that is saturated with capes and domino masks, it takes courage to tell a well-constructed superhero story like Delsante’s Stray; if you’re unable to find physical copies this week while you’re out, be sure to head over to Comixology where you can get the first TWO issues!
Everyone loves an underdog, right? Get on your social media accounts and share the love for Stray #1 by adding Stray’s Facebook Fan Page and tweeting #StrayDay to @IAmTheStray if you get your paws on a copy!