“Imagine for a moment that you were the world’s strongest protector. Imagine that no knife, bullet or bomb can harm you. Then imagine in that moment you are told you have cancer.” -Joe Martino
Mr. Martino strives to tell exactly this story with his Kickstarter funded comic book, The Mighty Titan. The idea of a superhero dealing with real world issues is far from new, but they often come off as contrived or forced. This is not the case with The Mighty Titan.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the amazing penciling work from Luca Cicchitti. I was simply blown away by the Chicago skyline on page 1 and was not let down through the entirety of the story. The art style brings back fond memories of the art that most comics developed during the 90’s while still maintaining a modern feel. I have not felt this blown away by an artist of a new book since I first picked up Invincible.
The story revolves around the Superman-like Titan, his alter ego, Mark Williams, and the super villain, Trenchmouth. We start with Williams lamenting his luck with the job market, until a patron at the coffee shop he is in alerts everyone of a robot who seems to be robbing a bank. Suddenly, Titan appears to stop the robot, who turns out to be a teenage boy who was employed by Trenchmouth. We learn that Trenchmouth has been hiring adolescents to do his dirty work. As the story continues, we learn that Trenchmouth is getting better at building his robots, and he doesn’t take failure very well, with it being implied that he kills and possibly experiments on those that fail him. The story ends with Titan being an awesome guy by rescuing a cat from a tree, but, as he flies away with the thanks of the cat’s owner, he collapses and reverts to being Mark Williams. Knowing that this story is about Martino’s own struggle with cancer, we can be fairly certain that this collapse is due to Titan having cancer.
While Martino’s writing style can seem simple at first, it is part of the charm of this book. Martino writes on his Kickstarter campaign for issue 2 that cancer takes away one’s innocence, and his writing shows this innocence in a brilliant way. Even more fantastic is Martino’s plotting and storytelling. Over the twenty minutes that I was reading, I felt immersed in the world of Titan. Not many big budget company books leave me feeling as much a part of their world as this book does with only a Kickstarter budget. That’s the magic that Martino has created: a believable world with lovable characters who you do not want to see anything bad happen to. But, as in the real world, cancer is a very real super villain that does not discriminate against its targets.
When I first heard of the idea of Kickstarter comics I was very cynical, but, after reading The Mighty Titan, I am a true believer. Very few first issues grab my attention like this book did, and that is the true testament of what Martino has created. If you have not read this book, do yourself a favor—go to your local comic store and ask them to order this book for you. You will not be disappointed.