(This review may contain spoilers for the story content.)
Introduction: For my next comic review, I decided to focus on a single issue from an independent publisher. I chose to review Tezla #1 from Heroes: Ignited, another comic imprint of Short Fuse Media Group, similar to the comic I covered in my last post. Tezla focuses on Tessa Bridges, alias Tezla, a college freshman who has only recently acquired powers and become a superhero. The comic is headed by Dimitris Moore, who is the concept’s creator, the book’s plotter, and the comic’s artist. Whitney Cook serves as the colorist, while Sam and Kim Eggleston serve as scriptwriter and writing editor, respectively. Now, let us begin the review.
Plot Summary: The comic begins in medias res, with Tezla surrounded by masked thugs on the very first page. After Tezla makes some classic heroic quips while zapping the crooks, the story enters a flashback to six months earlier to explain Tessa’s origins. In this flashback, Tessa’s father brings Tess to his work. Dr. Bridges is working on a project to unlock the genetic code for manifesting superpowers within individuals who have the latent genetic ability for it. He tested negative for the potential, but he tests Tessa. Dr. Bridges then takes Tessa to watch the first human trial for the drug that will unlock superpowers. The test subject is a military volunteer, Sergeant Hector Salvador from the U.S. Army.
The process successfully unlocks Salvador’s latent powers, but he cannot control it and he overloads his confinements. Salvador causes a massive explosion, the wreckage of which leaves Tessa and her father wounded and in danger. Dr. Bridges uses the experimental drug on the unconscious Tessa, and moments after injecting her, a loose cable hits his back and electrocutes both Tessa and Dr. Bridges. Tessa was a match for the latent genetic code, and the jolt sparked incredible electrical powers. Tessa was approached by Salvador, who was engulfed in a fiery aura, but she passed out. She woke in a hospital several days later to learn that her father was in a coma. The drug ended up getting in the water and air supply, so Tessa became a superhero as Tezla to find and confront other empowered people—one of whom Tezla ends up face-to-face with in the final scene of the issue in the present.
Plot Analysis: To have a good comic that can last the long haul, a solid foundation is key. Tezla does an excellent job building this foundation by respecting the basics of superhero stories. Within this first issue, Moore (a) demonstrates the abilities of the lead, (b) highlights the lead’s personality, (c) reveals the lead’s origin story, and (d) establishes a problem that the lead needs to potentially solve. All-in-all, I would say that this issue makes an effective use of its page count. From my experience, comic fans like to see these elements as soon as possible. However, these types of building blocks can take several issues into a new series to develop. Yet Moore touches upon these points in a subtly solid way, and he does it at a pace that feels natural. None of these elements are shoehorned in simply to have them all be in the first issue. By establishing these points from the get-go, Moore and his team create an issue #1 that is more than capable of hooking a reader.
Characterization: While there are other characters within the first issue, the main focus is (rightfully) on Tezla, or rather, on Tessa Bridges as she begins her journey to become a hero. Concerning Tessa’s heroic identity, Moore depicts Tezla with the initiative to intercept crimes in action. She confronts them and uses her environment to her advantage, using the water as a conduit for her electric powers, which she exhibits in a striking fashion. We do not get to see how she fairs in hand-to-hand combat, nor do we get to see her square off against another empowered human. But she runs into one at the end of the issue, and I became invested enough that I look forward to seeing how she handles that combat situation.
In terms of who “Tessa” is, some of her personality shines through in her battle in the present, where she uses observation and intellect to help incapacitate criminals (while issuing a classic, clever, and fun quip). That said, the majority of her character, at least in this issue, is most evident in the flashback scenes that explain her origins. Tessa is respectful toward her father. She is interested in his research. She is young enough (seemingly 18 years old, if she is a college freshman) to have a sense of wonder. And as I expressed before, she is witty. I find this personality type compelling, and I find that the way Moore and the Egglestons write the character made her three-dimensional, which is also sometimes a little tough to manage in a single issue.
Art: Not only does Dimitris Moore deliver a compelling first issue in terms of plot, he and Cook also present consistent, solid, fine artwork throughout the comic. Moore pencils both characters and backgrounds with a level of depth that I enjoy. Characters are drawn with a large degree of realism and exhibit a range of physiques. In many comics I have seen, some of the same physiques are repeatedly used—particularly with female characters. Tezla/Tessa, however, feels more like an actual human being to me. She is not given an exaggerated bust or any overdone female features, and I respect that design. I also really like how the art features appropriately placed shadows and other details that make the images feel real. I am fond of that style. While a portion of the art’s quality stems from Moore’s pencils, Cook’s colors deserve credit as well. The colors are striking. The electricity of Tezla and the fiery energy of Sergeant Salvador really stand out, and the colors really helped bring life to the penciled art.
Final Remarks: As much as I favor young heroes, I bought this issue #1 with high hopes and anticipation, and Tezla #1 delivers. I appreciate how Moore managed to include several story hooks in one issue without being overbearing on the reader. The premise suits my taste, as I look forward to seeing Tezla take responsibility for her father’s research by taking on criminals who have acquired powers through the H.E.R.A. (Human Enhancement Retroactive Agent) drug. I assume that Salvador will end up being a major opponent of Tezla, but even if he does not, I am looking forward to seeing how that plot line plays out. Similarly, I would enjoy seeing if any other heroes emerge thanks to the H.E.R.A. drug. Whatever the case, I have been pulled into the title, and I hope to buy further issues in the future. And if any of the elements I have mentioned appeal to any of you, I encourage you to give Tezla a try for yourself.
Closing: I know I have said a lot about this story, and I hope you have enjoyed what you have read. If you have any thoughts on the comic or on my review, feel free to comment below. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have an amazing day.