REVIEW: 'Frontiersman' #1 by Patrick Kindlon, Marco Ferrari, and Jim Campbell



Writer: Patrick Kindlon
Artist: Marco Ferrari
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: September 22, 2021
Cover Price: $3.99

PATIENCE! CONVICTION! REVENGE! team PATRICK KINDLON & MARCO FERRARI reunite for an all-new ONGOING SERIES at Image! Classic Green Arrow-style adventure blends with the thoughtfulness of Concrete in a superhero odyssey for mature, but uncynical, readers! Frontiersman is coaxed out of retirement by an environmentalist group, only to find that being a spokesperson makes him a target for old and new enemies alike! For the superhero reader looking for more.

★★★★☆ (4/5)

'Frontiersman' has a lot to say about activism and the environment. It wears its ideas, ideals, and opinions on its sleeve unapologetically and with fervor. The solicit says "Classic Green Arrow-style adventure blends with the thoughtfulness of Concrete in a superhero odyssey," and that's both accurate and ambitious. Writer Patrick Kindlon makes it clear in the afterword that comics need to take chances and break the mold with fresh approaches to the superhero genre. Kindlon and artist Marco Ferrari are passionate and committed to bringing "the best superhero comic on the shelves." We appreciate that kind of fire and swagger. We want creators to shoot for the stars. 'Frontiersman' #1 is the opening salvo in their pursuit of greatness. 

The premise is a fascinating one for a new superhero comic. Retired hero and living off the grid in the middle of a forest, Frontiersman is approached by an environmentalist to sit high in a tree to protest deforestation. It's as much a social protest as it is a political one but something he's not interested in. He'd rather not be a mascot for the group. He's not fighting some supervillain or some harbinger of the apocalypse, it's literally a high-profile act of protest by a former superhero without throwing a punch. The issue spends most of the time with Frontiersman wrestling with the idea and reminiscing about his active days as part of the super team, the Bold Travelers. He maintains his superhero days are over as age has caught up to him. 

The glimpses of the past depict a wily and gung-ho hero unafraid to battle the bad guys. You wouldn't think a plotline like this would work or be compelling but it is. Kindlon's world-building for his take on superheroes begins small and focused on Frontiersman as a gateway to a reality not too unlike our own. It takes place in the political landscape of 2019 so it's ripe for controversial observations albeit probably accurately argued about the state of climate change and other environmental issues. There's some biting commentary about performative activism that still resonates today. Frontiersman's role as the most socially conscious hero of his time makes him the original social justice warrior before the term got twisted. He embodies the idea of a real activist instead of a performative online one. 

I'm convinced Marco Ferrari lives in a forest like the titular character because of the way forests are illustrated here -- detailed, lush, intricate, and bursting with color. Ferrari shows a reverence for the wilderness as the trees are properly scaled to loom over the characters, its density, and scope depict the majesty of the forest. It's all quite impressive. Throughout the issue, the colors are warm and full of earth tones (of course) with varying gradients using what looks like watercolors and benday dots. The art lends credence to the fight for preservation by the characters because of the dense beauty of the very thing they're trying to save. 

'Frontiersman' #1 presents an ambitious and thoughtful launch of a new superhero story centered on a socially conscious Old Man Hero recruited to stand up for the environment once more. It's a beautifully realized and illustrated series by Ferrari and an audacious promise of greatness from Kindlon. The road to the "Best Superhero Comic on the Shelves" begins with issue one and so far shows a ton of promise and conviction.