It has often been said that some of the best works of art, creation, or innovation have come from places of great pain. Such facts of the medium can be easy to miss or forget during the weekly grind weeding through the armada of comic books offered by "the big two" as well as countless other publishers. Yet not all superhero comics with big capes and bigger battles come from the same "factory" of corporate driven media. Bursting forth from a successful Kickstarter campaign is "The Mighty Titan", currently published by Red Anvil Comics and the incredibly personal creation of Joe Martino. A longtime comic book writer and artist, he is best known for "Ripperman" from Arcana Comics as well as his self-published creation, "Shadowflame". Having been diagnosed with cancer, he's managed to beat the disease twice and come back stronger than ever to continue to work on the medium he loves. "The Mighty Titan" is a work which harnesses all of the emotions and struggles with such an illness as well as delivers on the sorts of over-the-top action and mythological references that most fans of superhero comics will enjoy.
Set in Chicago, "The Mighty Titan" tells the tale of Mark Williams, a married father of two who has fallen on tough times. By day he is an unemployed forensic investigator, but by night (or during a crisis) he can transform into the blond demi-god, Titan. He has been protecting the city for five years, ever since a fateful spelunking expedition changed his life forever, and in that time he's not only saved the city from a rampaging Cyclops, but earned himself a mortal nemesis in the mad ex-Nazi scientist, "Trenchmouth", who manipulates teenagers into fighting Titan in bulky suits of cybernetic armor. Unfortunately, a series of headaches and fainting spells begin to jeopardize his secret identity and even the lives of the civilians he is trying to protect, Mark seeks to get to the bottom of it. Ultimately, he learns that he has stage three brain cancer, and not even his super-powered Titan form is immune to either it, or the painful chemo therapy he has to endure in his attempt at a cure. All the while he has to deal with the stress this puts on his wife Ellie (whose waitress job isn't quite enough for the bills) and his kids. His attempts to cure the illness by other means wind up only bringing more threats to both himself and Chicago around him.
Most of the artwork is provided by penciler Luca Cicchitti, inker Jeff Austin and colorist Keith J. Betancourt, although they have assistance from other inkers, colorists, and pencilers as the series goes on. Variant covers are provided by no end of talented figures, such as Jerry Ordway and Chris Giarrusso ("G-Man"). The art for the series does a nice job of creating a look of smooth lines and rich colors where both real people and their Chicago settings look just as fine as the far-out giant robots or monsters. The series does a good job of telling the reader who the cast is while working backwards to give information about the origins of Titan with every subsequent issue. In the third issue, a costumed vixen named Caress appears and her scenes seem the most problematic as she seems to exist only to provide a revelation about how the cancer effects Titan and showcase some "T&A" which the series lacked up until that point (and even after). Beyond this, the origins of Titan mix in the best of Greek mythology and few series tend to go wrong with having an ex-Nazi mad scientist as a villain - especially one with a decent motivation. The series mostly rests on the shoulders of it's lead, which is good as Mark Williams is a very sympathetic figure. He's hardly perfect and prone to mistakes, and his desperation in seeking to cure his cancer at points is all too human. Still, like most of us, he's trying to make the best of whatever life deals him, both good and bad. Martino has a great sense of pace, getting more done in four issues than some other writers accomplish in six, and knowing when the best time for a flashback is.
The series is available in April's issue of PREVIEWS for pre-order (item code APR141344) and at $3.99 an issue, the reader gets more pages per average as well as a faster flowing story than many comics for a similar price offered by Marvel or DC Comics tend to do. Besides supporting a comic produced for a very noble cause, it also is a comic which offers superhero fans a mix of everything they love about the franchise. There's a sympathetic lead hero to root for, giant robots, gods, monsters, real-life problems and even a bit of cheesecake (for those who like that sort of thing). The fifth and last issue will offer a finale, which like most creator owned series is difficult to predict and this all the more thrilling to behold. No end of talented creators have become involved with this project for a variety of reasons, and it's brought fans together all across the country. If you're a lover of solid superhero comics with a lot of action and heart, give this one a thought when organizing that pull list.