Review – Sparta U.S.A. #1

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Sparta USA 1Sparta U.S.A. arrive in my mailbox unexpectedly.  I wasn’t expecting to receive a copy for review and also knew nothing about the comic book.  It’s one in all honesty I would have passed over on the new release shelf.  And that would of been a missed opportunity.  Set in a Pollyanna American town called Sparta, the series is a sly look at the American Dream, ideals, and has a nice undertone of political commentary.  The two main characters are the Maestro, a blue man who runs the town of Sparta and Godfrey McLaine, the hailed quarterback who’s returned after a three year disappearance but now he’s red.

I can’t help but feel that those two distinct colors, red and blue, were chosen as they are the two most associated with the two main political parties here in the United States.  It’s clear these two colors are going to clash like the titans of the sport that’s prominently focused upon in the series, football, as well as the two parties that go head to head each election season.

From the DC release:

There’s never been a town more American than Sparta.  In Sparta they believe in mom, apple pie and all-American football.  They believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through subterfuge, treachery, blackmail, and murder – just like the Maestro taught them as he learned it from the President of the United States.  Sparta is such a great place no one ever thinks of leaving, which is good because the mountains are filled with deadly Yeti.  It’s been three years since anyone tried, and he was never heard from again… until today.

Today, Godfrey McLaine, the greatest quarterback in the Might Spartans history, has returned from the mountains bigger, taller and redder than when he left.  He’s also armed with tales of magic and a secret, which will expose the rotten core of the American Dream.

Though it doesn’t say it outright, this could be some of the most subtle and interesting political commentary out there.

Plot: Written by David Lapham (Stray Bullets, Young Liars) the series begins as a weird look at a town obsessed with football.  But there’s more too it, with a hint of magic and fantasy.  In the first issue we’re introduced to the major players and are shown all is not right in Sparta.  Something is clearly wrong.  We’re left with a mystery, but enough of a tease that it made me want to come back for more. Rating: 8.75

Art: Johnny Timmons picks up the art duty for the series with a style that’s befitting the story.  I don’t know how to describe it, but it fits the
apple pie but something’s not right” plot of the series.  It’s both clean and dirty at the same time.  The character design is consistent and the level of detail gives enough to tell the story and not distract with interesting character designs.  It’s nice to look at, but it’s the story that’s the focus here.  Rating: 8

Overall: The series came out of left field, as I’d never heard of it, and wasn’t expecting to find it in my mail box.  I’m very pleased I did as it’s an original story that befits the television screen as much as the comic page.  There’s something familiar and fantastical at the same time.  The themes seem pertinent and timely but not preachy and definitely doesn’t clock you over the head.  We’ll see as the series progresses but we’re looking forward to what might be the most sly series of the year.  Overall Rating: 8.5

Recommendation: Buy

Page count: 22 pages of story    Price: $2.99     Release: Wednesday 3/3/2010

DC and Wildstorm provided Graphic Policy with an advance copy of this issue for FREE for review.