Reviews

Review – The Formula #1 (Independent)

Overall
4.5/10
4.5/10
  • Writing - 5/10
    5/10
  • Art - 4/10
    4/10
  • Overall - 4.5/10
    4.5/10
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The Formula #1

Writers: Fredrick, Aaron, and Elijah Johnson
Artist: Elijah and Aaron Johnson
Colorists: Ross Hughes and Alonso Espinoza
Letterer: Toben Racicot
Maturity Rating: Teen
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: N/A

Romeo and Jay lost their father many years ago. He was a hero in many aspects. But when a drug lord is suspected for his death and a new drug hits town, giving people superpowers, it is time for them to be heroes themselves.

 

Living Up to a Heroic Legacy in The Formula #1

A father, a husband, a war hero, a firefighter. Ashley Jones was a lot of things to a lot of people, and he died doing what he did best: being a hero. Saving lives in an apartment fire, Ashley Jones died too early, leaving his young boys and mother alone. 14 years later, Romeo Jones and Jay Jones have grown into young men, inspired by their father’s heroics. Maybe a little too inspired; dressing up as superheroes and fighting crime is probably not what their father envisioned for his kids. In The Formula #1, Romeo and Jay are on the trail of a drug lord who is responsible for their father’s death. But with a new drug on the streets that give people superpowers, the high school kids might be a bit over their heads. But that doesn’t mean they are going to stop fighting!

Writing

The Formula #1 (Independent) cover by Aaron Johnson
The Formula #1 (Independent) cover by Aaron Johnson

The Formula #1 is an independent comic book that has a great start and a fantastic finish, but gets muddled in the middle. Fredrick, Aaron, and Elijah Johnson start off The Formula #1 with a strong character opening: a great flashback where we see the brothers’ dad Ashley’s heroics and ultimate demise. From a story standpoint, it is just a good opening to the start of the issue and start to an “origin story” for the heroes of the series. The dialogue is quick and snappy and gets you into, for the lack of a better word, the heat of the moment, as Ashley saves lives from the apartment fire.

After the strong opening pages is where The Formula #1 gets mixed up. First, the kids, Jay and Romeo, dressing up as superheroes feels a little too glossed over. The two time jumps in the short pages do not flow well. I feel like that should have been a major centering point for the issue. Second, the story kind of jumps around a little too much, from introducing a new drug that gives people powers, to the kids playing sports and a drug kingpin possibly being the reason for their father’s death, love interest, character intros. It all has good concepts. But, from a storytelling standpoint, it did not flow well together and left me confused. 

I really liked the ending of The Formula #1. Obviously I will not spoil anything, but the writing team crafted a solid ending to the story. The last few pages have a nice flow to them and build up to the final page. It ends with a good teaser page for the next issue. Hopefully that leads to more explanation about the kids’ vigilantism.

Art

Now, I am very familiar with Elijah Johnson‘s artwork from his work on Leaders of the Free World #1 and #2 (you can check my reviews here) and pick both of the issues on Comixology now. Elijah Johnson did some great work and had some fantastic pages in Leaders of the Free World. So I was excited to see what he brought to the table with The Formula #1 along with Aaron Johnson.

So, Elijah and Aaron Johnson are both credited as artists on The Formula #1. Much like the writing, the opening and ending of the issue are strong, with lots of problems in the middle. Firstly, the opening with Ashley Jones saving people from the fire is wonderful. The firefighters’ uniform is wonderfully rendered and designed. The mask and helmet are amazingly well done. The scene also just flows well from a visual storytelling perspective. Great sense of urgency throughout. 

The middle of the issue, once again, is where things flounder. Just things like head position and body position seem off and not natural a lot of the time. There is also a lot of trouble with hands and fingers just being a weird mess or just turning into blobs with fingernails. Many of the pages feel rushed. There are a lot of inconsistencies in the art throughout the issue.

Now, there are some great pages in The Formula #1, full of detail and design, but they are few and far between and make the other pages stand out. I wasn’t a huge fan of the coloring by Ross Hughes and Alonso Espinoza at the beginning. It has a very “glossy” mid-2000s type feel to the coloring. But after a while, it kind of grows on you, and it works for the issue.

Conclusion

The Formula #1 starts off strong but doesn’t quite get to where it wants to be. I enjoyed the start of the issue and the ending set up a strong second issue, but the middle floundered in setting up our main characters and story. The characters of Jay and Romeo needed a little more attention. They had a lot of page time but I feel we really didn’t get to know them. The structure just didn’t work out well and made for a confusing read at times; the art had some good design and looks, but overall just felt too rushed and lacked a lot of detail to it. 

There is a lot to like in The Formula #1, but the story and art also need a lot of polish. I think with this first issue out of the way the creative team will have things more settled down and set to go for the second issue. Though I didn’t give The Formula #1 a great score. I think there are a lot of great things here; I am excited to see what this creative team does next.


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