After reading the Greek tale of Icarus most people come to the conclusion that when you soar too close to the sun you inevitably will crash. But what happens to a person when they have already crashed? Blackbox Comics introduces readers to Max Greeen, a man who has lost everything that mattered to him. In the pages Project Icarus we discover whether he can save us or will he surrender to his suffering when faced with societies worst who are being used for scientific war games.
Project Icarus Issues # 1 - 5
Writer: Andy Owens
Artist/Cover: Patrick Blaine
Inker: Andy Owens
Colorists: Ted Gonzalez; Claudia Giuliani
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD…
Writer Andy Owens introduces readers to Corrections Officer Max Green. Max seems a likable individual. In the first pages of Issue # 1 he stops a few ruffians from harassing the new young waitress and beating up the bar’s owner. Of course it probably isn’t the wisest decision to drink before heading off to work, especially when your job is guarding inmates at a maximum security prison. But Officer Green has his reasons. The day we meet Max also coincides with the anniversary of his daughter’s death due to cancer. Max didn’t cope with it well choosing alcohol which lead to him losing his job as a police officer. Next came the end of his marriage. Having already crashed all that’s left for Ian Green is the burn.
In the Greek tale, before his crash, Icarus’ wings were a means of escaping his imprisonment. Oddly enough it is one of the prisoners who Max Green is responsible for supervising who offers him an escape. On this particular evening Max, along with his friend and fellow officer Ian Velasquez, were transporting a particulary violent inmate. Dr. Barnett a.k.a the Slasher, though he isn’t particularly fond of that name, was supposedly getting an injection to calm his violent tendencies. The ruse is revealed when Barnett uses Ian’s insecurities about his wife’s infidelities to his advantage. Standing triumphantly over the guards we witness the beautiful (and bloody) brutality of this killer. Before escaping Barnett leaves Max with a parting shot after his parting gift(s). It seems The Slasher has plans for those responsible for his “treatment” and Max has a part to play in it.
Project Icarus is all about several individuals and their respective searches.
On one side you have the two main villain aspects of the series. There is The Slasher who is searching for those who experimented on him. However, I’m not sure if he intends to to expose their exploits or their internal organs. Then there is Mr. Ketchum and his employer, Mr. Patterson, who are searching for investors. They are willing to prove their pharmaceutical product by showcasing the several “participants” of Project Icarus, a bunch of suped up psychopaths. Witnessing both sides it’s hard to determine the lesser of the evils. Obviously Dr. Barnett deserved incarceration, based upon his earlier heinous offenses, but he shouldn’t become someone’s pawn for profit. Meanwhile we often hear the phrases that Mr. Patterson speaks come out of the mouths of our own elected officials mouths. After all they only want what is best for us as a society…so what if you have to break a few eggs.
On the other side is Max Green. After Barnett’s gift Max awakens to discover he is a changed man. We never learn how long it would have taken Barnett to make his move on Max. Discovering a cover up is in progress with no one else able (or willing) to risk exposing it, Max Green sets out to make things right. Deciding this is too much for one man Max enlists the aid of a parolee he knows. Max hopes the Hot Topic techie Elizabeth Randle will help him stay a step ahead of both Barnett and Patterson.
Project Icarus is a brilliant bare knuckle brawler series. The serum Barnett injected him with grants Max enhanced strength and regenerative abilities. Usually a character gets either or in a comic series, enhanced strength usually comes with nigh invulnerability meanwhile individuals who have rapid healing usually aren’t the strongest. I enjoyed this as it seemed the creators chose to keep Max humbly human. He can hold his own and even win but it takes more than just his powers. Teaming him up with the smart Liz balances out what Max is lacking. It also helps that her salty sass personality offset Max’s often serious stern nature.
The artists do a fantastic job of bringing this action adventure to the pages. There is a violent undertone but it never oversaturates the pages. The offenders we see each have unique powers which they callouslly use to victimize others. The circumstances under which Max encounters each one are illustrated with ample buildup and satisfying conclusions. If you are a fan of 90s era comics this is a book you should pick up if for no other reason than these genetic enhanced battles.
In a culture that clamors for continuity and connected universes Owens has found creative ways to introduce other series from Blackbox, hinting at more tales to be told. But for now this series ultimately becomes a grand game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Readers will get to witness as each side moves closer to it’s objective. Dr. Barnett looks to use Max against Project Icarus. Project Icarus hopes to recapture The Slasher and silence Max. But what does Max want? And more importantly after all that he has endured what does he deserve. Will he get the closure he previously sought from the bottom of the bottle or a new lease on life? Find out in the pages of Project Icarus.