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Comic title: Inspector Gadget: Gadget on the Orient Express
Art by José Cobá
Written by Dale Mettam
Published by Viper Comics
Lineup Inspector Gadget series
Format: Digest-sized trade Paperback collecting the Inspector Gadget: Free Comic Book Day story and the exclusive second half of the story.
Surely everyone's heard of Inspector Gadget at least once? Right?
But it isn't the case, to quickly summarize it, Inspector Gadget is a cult little cartoon series created by Jean Chalopin for DIC Entertainment in the 1980s.
It's a Franco-Canadian-US collaboration. It was partially animated in France and Japan. It ran from 1983 to 1986 for only two very long seasons.
It became hugely popular in American and Europe. Many spinoffs and animated films followed over the years, such as Gadget Boy & Heather or Gadget and the Gadgetinis, as well as a videogame, a comic book series and countless merchandising.
The original series was about this clueless robot policeman with endless gadgets hidden in his mechanic body - hence the Go-Go-Gadget to summon the items. He was partially inspired by Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther.
A typical episode would usually consist of Gadget getting a mission from Chief Quimby who would then explode one way or another, then Gadget's niece Penny and her dog Brain would do most of the hard work. Gadget would get the praise for putting a stop to M.A.D and then the villain Dr. Claw would run away. The episodes would usually finally end with a PSA (public service announcement) for the kids watching the series.
Back in 1999, Inspector Gadget's got its own big budget movie adaptation. Let's just say it was a "a passable movie adaptation" like I said in the past. The film was then quickly followed by a direct-to-video sequel, the less said the better.
Finally in 2011, Viper Comics announced they would bring the propriety back in a new comic book series, for old time fans and kids alike.
Inspector Gadget, Penny and Brain are (finally) back!
The story takes place after some other unseen adventure.
Our heroes are now in Istanbul, on their way back home.
Gadget manage to get a trip back aboard the famous Orient Express... but unknown to him, it was all part of an elaborated plan organized by Dr. Claw!!
Gadget needs to find and protect a certain Professor Sagan-Heisenberg to bring him back to Metro City.
With a train crowded with MAD Agents, will our trio live to see another day!?
The story was originally previewed on a Free Comic Book Day issue, it's about 45 pages long and now complete on this little graphic novella format.
This all-new story was published by independent company Viper Comics, who originally organized a little contest for beginner and aspiring artists to illustrate the book.
A lot of participants were trying to get their unique interpretation of the characters, but Viper was looking for something more classic.
This series doesn't try to change things up too much or reimagine the characters for today's standards. Well, actually Penny's computer-book is apparently now a tablet. All in all, it's a return back to the original series, with no gimmick and no re-intepretation.
The comic book was illustrated by José Cobá. His art is, let's be honest, a bit rough and amateurish some times but he really starts to get the characters over the course of the story. The problem is that the colors are a bit too simplistic which doesn't help his decent lineart.
The story was written by Dale Mettam. His name might be relatively unknown, but he's actually the editor-in-chief at Viper.
His story is pretty simple and fast paced akin to an episode of the show. Penny is as always the real hero, but she's not given too much to do for a change. To give an equal "screentime" (if you will) to Gadget, Penny and Brain.
Overall, it's a great little story. It really captures the tone of the cartoon series.
It's easily one of the best attempts to modernize Inspector Gadget I've seen in years, yet stay very true to the core of the series. Unlike most modern direct-to-video CGi animated features and other short lived TV spinoffs (or the live action movies for that matter).
Yeah, I said the art was probably the weakest element, yet it doesn't detract too much from the story.
Thing is, the characters lack a bit of "life". There's not a lot of variations in the inking (the lines are all the same thickness if you will). However, despite all these little shortcomings in the artwork, since the characters are so perfectly transposed from their original model sheets onto a comic page, they are recognizable. And it just works.
José Cobá was getting much better by the end though.
It's a rough but fairly decent start.
Let's see if Viper is able to release some more comics, I really hope to see more from them.
I give it: