Justice Warriors #1
Written by: Matt Bors
Art by: Ben Clarkson
Colors by: Felipe Sobreiro
Letters by: Matt Bors
Published by: Ahoy Comics
Review by: Hayden Mears
Justice Warriors #1 is not subtle satire. In fact, this first issue is so brazen with its digs at society’s dysfunction that its attempts to illuminate systemic flaws can often feel clumsy and ill-conceived. However, anyone familiar with Matt Bors (and Ahoy Comics) knows that subtlety isn’t the go-to approach. Besides, to bury themes and viewpoints under layers of subtext is to risk losing sight of your message. With this kind of sassy, surgical satire, clarity makes a cleaner cut. And man, do they make themselves clear in the best ways possible.
Justice Warriors #1 is an escalation of its creators’ political frustrations and a continuation of their pointed cartooning. Bors garnered fame as founder of The Niban online publisher of political cartoons. Ben Clarkson, meanwhile, turned heads with his abstract art style. Now, he’s teamed up with Bors (who doubles as letterer) to co-write and draw a heavy-hitting, gut-busting satire of the highest order.
Bors and Clarkson root Justice Warriors in some of our culture’s most popular fixtures. Bors recently said that he and Clarkson were “taking the American obsession with police dramas, splicing it with the violent satire of Paul Verhoeven, and extruding it through MTV’s Liquid Television and the mutants and cyborgs of comic book culture.” Amazingly, the creative team makes each of those influences apparent in a 24-page comic. Their sandbox is Bubble City, a “perfect” metropolis enclosed within a literal bubble. From there, it all gets weirder and more fun.
“Grounded” is the last word that comes to mind after reading that description, but that’s exactly what the colorist Felipe Sobreiro brings to the project. His muted – yet mesmerizing -colors remind us that as exaggerated and outrageous as it all is, Justice Warriors is inspired by real-world conundrums. Sobreiro understands that the comic medium’s loose parameters enable colorists to convey tone and intent in creative ways. Frankly, the way his colors reinforce its themes may be the book’s subtlest aspect.
Standing out amidst a slew of masterfully crafted elements are the characters. This could’ve been the book’s weakest aspect, but Bors and Clarkson understand something crucial: A satire as outrageous as Justice Warriors #1 deserves an equally ludicrous cast. Who else could epitomize Bubble City’s excess and corruption like a musician mayor who uses city politics to sell more albums? Or protagonist Swamp Cop’s new partner, the literal turd of a cop dubbed Cadet Schitt? It’s great stuff, and it really sets the tone for the next issue.
To sum things up: Justice Warriors #1 is an outstanding first issue that skewers the status quo in fun, acerbic, and earnest ways. Where Bors and Clarkson take things next is anyone’s guess.