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Intention’s Brief Page-length Doesn’t Scupper its Heartwarming Heroics

To leave this review as short and sweet as the comic its about would be appropriate, but would lack the right amount of appreciation that Intention deserves. This comic is five pages long. That’s not a typo: there are fewer than thirty panels in this story and yet plenty comes through in Michael Robertson‘s brief creation. The technical restrictions of the short story format (between two to ten pages of original work) clearly allowed for a creative result, as such restrictions often do for talented writers and artists.

We meet Jack and Alicia on a park bench as the sun sets behind them. Jack is a down-on-his-luck superhero lamenting how he feels unable to help anyone lately. By the time he arrives on the scene of a crisis, the problem has already been resolved or there never happened to be one in the first place. Through Jack’s reflections, we are taken in just a few panels to a burning building, a cornfield straight out of North by Northwest, and a roaring storm at sea. Peyton Freeman‘s coloring shines best in these moments, darting between hot reds and deep blues from panel to panel.

The pacing of Jack’s memories is smooth and easy to follow, as a story this short should be. Alicia’s friendly (and potentially romantic) interjections are thoughtful and deliver the pathos of the ending. And believe it or not, even though the resolution comes almost as quickly as the comic begins, it is worth leaving out here to be read on its own. It’s a kind sentiment (ending on a funny note) that compliments the superhero genre well when used effectively, as it is here.

For such a short comic, there’s a lot to unpack artistically. Panel space is used very well here, with the ones that include more dynamic action given the space they need to be exciting. A wide range of locations, action scenes, and times are covered impressively in just a handful of pages. In what might have otherwise been a cramped story, character beats are given space to breathe. When Jack chases down a falling plane (as seen at the top of this article), two-thirds of the panel are just for letting the danger of the situation sink in. Intention is over quickly, but it definitely resonates.

Mannie Abeleda‘s art is clearly inspired by the classic archetypes of superhero comics (one only needs to look at Jack’s ridiculously muscular spandex for proof), but draws the other characters with a realistic warmth. Its message is nothing revolutionary, but it remains as important now as it ever has, both in real life and the superhero genre. It’s also nice to see someone as powerful as Jack doing everything from rescuing sinking boats to mowing an elderly woman’s lawn. Even with superheroic abilities, it’s the small things that count.

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Jonathan Hazin

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