REVIEW: Earthruler #1

Earthruler: Chapter One
Written by: Darrin O’ Toole
Art by: Shawn Langley
Lettering by: MaGnUs

Earthruler cover

Earthruler is a take on a traditional, and in fact the original, superhero origin and mythos. Like Superman and countless other caped planet-hoppers, Earthruler’s hero Rykaal comes to earth as a lone traveller from his home system. Rykaal in fact, comes from another galaxy. On arrival he discovers that his new surroundings imbue him with powers he was not previously possessed of –flight, strength, telepathic imbuements, and the uncanny ability to pull off a cape and spandex combination and still look cool.
Earthruler does not begin with this origin and then move on, however. Here, the origin very much is the story, and it is a lot more interesting than most origins; taking plenty of unexpected turns along the way. In fact, most of the story takes place before his journey to earth, and the reasons for his exile from his home system seem to be at the crux of what the book will be about. Told in flashbacks, we know from the first page that Rykaal’s story is not a happy one, beginning as it does with him in chains,  in front of ‘The Consensus’ in order to recount his crimes and how he came to be in his situation.
Shawn Langley’s B & W art is as good as any to be seen in small press publications. Storytelling, action, expression, pose; there is no area in which Langley could be said to be lacking, making Earthruler a very satisfying book to read. His character close ups are a particular strength, but what impressed me the most was his striking cover, with a menacing Earthruler seeming to bind the earth in chains behind him, while other characters and races are placed neatly at the four corners of the page. There is a lot going on; a lot of story told in this one image, but it avoids clutter or confusion. A cover this good can help an indie publication get noticed, and I can see Shawn picking up a lot more work because of it.
Overall this is a superhero story a step above most other small press efforts in the genre, which have a tendency to run along the same lines and rely on overly-familiar tropes. Darrin O’ Tooles is presenting an intriguing first chapter in what could turn out to be an innovative, and impressive superhero comic.