Mix Picks: Mountainhead #1
Up in the corner of every IDW cover, the corporate brand image has been temporarily modified to help celebrate the company’s (impressive) 20 years in business. The iconic IDW lightbulb icon implies a level of creativity and fresh ideas. And their new comic Mountainhead lives up to that – it’s fresh, different and gripping.
This series starts out telling the story of the Stubbs family – a father and son team who are always on the run and living off the grid. They break into houses and burglarize them. It’s not quite as straightforward as all that, though. One key tenet of their modus operandi is to not get sucked into the never-ending messaging of our consumer-focused society. The father reminds the son, Abraham, during a break-in, that “it’s all just stuff”. Additionally, the father reinforces the concept of not defining oneself by one’s possessions. That’s a great message, but when Abraham comes a across an electric guitar, the reader can see it gets more difficult to hang onto these highfalutin ideals.
(I imagine there was a time organized religion was the place that espoused the rejection of consumerism, but that seems long past.)
Writer John Lees does a good job at unfurling the characters’ world in a methodical, but enjoyably fresh, way. Lees explains what’s going on with a deft touch, and uses actions more than words to enthrall readers and invite them in. In fact, he employs an economy of words. In just this one issue, Lees still finds ways to build the suspense and ratchet up the contrarian points-of-view held by the lead character.
Ryan Lee’s art is the type of gritty, cartoony rendering that I typically do not care for. It’s almost a throwback to the punk Brit comics from the 80s. Here it all works. It’s to Lee’s credit that is able to add such intensity and humanity to his illustrations that even a traditionalist like me found himself excited to see what was on the next page. Extra kudos for the imaginative splash page, which was reminiscent of those 70s Marvel Jungle Action comics (featuring T’Challa, the Black Panther), that always seemed to feature the creator’s names imbedded into the landscape.
Of note are colorist Doug Garbak and letterer Shawn Lee, both of who try some new things (and succeed) without getting too flashy.
There are a few twists and turns along the way. The first issue started in one place, threw me a curveball, and then threw me another curveball. I didn’t expect issue #1 to leave us where it does. I’m eager to read more.
IDW’s Mountainhead #1 goes on sale today at comic shops nationwide and at Comixology/Amazon.