WildGuard: Casting Call #1

Written and penciled by Todd Nauck
Inked by Lary Stucker
32 pages, color
Published by Image ComicsLove them or hate them, it’s hard to escape the ever-growing sphere of reality television these days. One of the most popular forms is the “talent show” variety (American Idol, Pop Idol, Fame Academy, Star Search, Making the Band, etc.) where potentials competing for a final prize are whittled down through auditions and viewer polls. So it really makes perfect sense, then, that in a world of superheroes we’d get the exact same thing… just the contestants would be different in what they’re going to show off.

WildGuard is a new made-for-tv superteam with five slots waiting to be filled. As hundreds upon hundreds of superpowered beings arrive to audition, some are quickly weeded out by the judges while others make it to the next round. As the hopefuls wait to see what their next challenge will be, though, other events going on outside are about to spill into their studio—making this much more of a “reality” show than anyone had expected.

This is the first time I’d read Todd Nauck’s writing, and it’s nice to see that he has a pretty good handle on this aspect of comics. Nauck interestingly chooses in this first issue to not focus so much on the characters as he does the world they’re in, but I think it’s a wise decision. By showing us how this world treats superheroes, it says a lot about the characters involved in this sort of competition. The Entertainment Tonight-esque news show at the beginning of the issue is also a lot of fun in how it introduces us to everything, with its combination of news, entertainment, and gossip all wrapped into one. While Nauck may be concentrating a bit more on the world rather than all the assorted characters trying out for WildGuard, that’s not to say that he ignores them. Several of our potential finalists get the spotlight here, and while it’s clear which ones will be our main viewpoint characters, he does give us just enough bits and pieces for the rest that we’re getting a little bit of a grasp for the rest of them… just like when you see the first episode of American Idol, for instance. It’s a nice mimicking of our shows in how WildGuard: Casting Call is set up, and it’s such a great concept to boot that it’s good to see Nauck using it so well.

Nauck and inker Lary Stucker have a very clean, animation-influenced art style that’s gained in popularity over the past couple of years. After drawing almost five years of Young Justice for DC Comics, Nauck and Stucker certainly work well together. The end result is a really crisp, clean art style that’s got a nice mixture of influences here, with classically-proportioned heroes and young, hip character designs. A book like WildGuard needs to have a strong visual sense with all of these costumed heroes, and Nauck doesn’t disappoint; these are a lot of nice character designs on display here, which both stand out from each other and at the same time signpost their abilities. With so many characters present for auditions, it’s important to be able to tell them all apart at a glance.

Intrigued? There’s one more part to the puzzle. WildGuard: Casting Call #6 will reveal which five heroes make it onto the team… but Nauck’s only picked four to get slots in the lineup. The fifth member is chosen by you, the reader, by voting at WildGuard.com. It’s a great nod to how the other shows of this nature works, and adds an extra level of excitement to the book. WildGuard: Casting Call #1 is just a lot of fun, and I think the remaining five issues will continue to do just that. So long as no one sings Celine Dion songs, I think Nauck’s going to get high ratings. WildGuard: Casting Call #1 is now on sale at better comic book stores everywhere.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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