A while back, during my first excursion into comics, I searched for examples of successful indie books. What worked, what didn’t and how others were building their fan base. In my search, I stumbled upon a comic called Foreign Matter, a story about the media, perception and what would happen if superheroes actually existed.
At the start of the book, the reader is treated to an article about a confrontation between Virtus, FM’s version of Superman, and Acturon, an atomic monster. The article details the battle and gives us a bit of insight into how the world views Metaheroes, as they’re called. Cut to a zombie attack in Champion city, a fictional metropolis akin to, well Metropolis. Here we’re introduced to the Champion Coalition, this worlds Justice League analog, complete with crime fighting billionaire, Phantasm Prime, and the seasoned Amazonian warrior, Femina. A number of other colorful characters such as the robotic genius Cranium Case and the genetically altered Gentleman who is as poetic as he is ferocious, round out the team. When our heroes discover that the source of the undead disturbance is Salma, a young woman unfortunate enough to open Pandora’s Box, a series of events unfold that expose the hero’s, vulnerabilities, short-comings and most of all their humanity.
What writer Martin John has done in this comic, is take beloved superhero arch-types and made them fun again. Not unlike the hyper-violence of the Authority or the over sexed heroes in The Boys, John shrouds his characters in drama. From the moonlit rendezvous of Virtus and Femina, to the roof top intervention of Phantasm Prime, we have a recipe for a good reality T.V. show. However, drama isn’t the books only draw as members of the Coalition begin to die and Virtus’ mysterious origins come back to haunt him. The thing I love most about this story, is how it uses media, mainly fake ads and blogs, to inform the reader about the world without the need for exposition. That brings me to another great thing about the world of Foreign Matter, and that is ‘superhero as celebrity’. There seem to be whole careers built upon the coverage of Metahero/ Methuman activity, both in and out of the crime fighting world. This angle makes the book feel like a fresh take, instead of a Supreme Power rip-off.
German Ponce’s ability to add realism to a fantastic landscape is another reason I dig FM. From the intricate designs on Pandora’s box, to Cranium Case’s various metal caprices, to the luscious lips on Femina , this world looks real. That being said I’d love to see this comic in color at some point and hope that both John and Ponce have that in the works. My only issue is that some background designs look like they were borrowed from other comics, such as the creatures wreaking havoc on the city.
The biggest impression I get from Foreign Matter, is that John and Ponce took time to develop it. From the story to the character designs, this doesn’t have all the tell-tale markings of a rushed indie book. On the contrary, it seems to be an attempt at the big leagues and if this is just the beginning, I cannot wait to see what else they have in store for us. You can pick up this book on Amazon.com or on Foreignmattercomics.com