Acclaimed artist and occasional filmmaker Kaare Andrews makes his creator-owned comics debut with Renato Jones: The One%. [Warning: Review contains significant spoilers]
Publisher’s description: Special double-sized first issue! The one percent own more than half the world’s wealth. They’ve crashed economies, bought governments, and have amassed more power than any other group in history. And they still don’t have enough. With this kind of power how can anyone make them pay? Who will make them pay? Enter Renato Jones, a mysterious vigilante, out to even the score. And when he enters the fray, the super-rich are super-f***ed. From acclaimed creator Kaare Kyle Andrews (Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, Spider-Man: Reign) comes a supercharged capitalist action thriller for a post-Great Recession world.
Who is Renato Jones?
The protagonist in the new series by Vancouver-based comics creator Kaare Andrews, Renato Jones was plucked out of poverty as an orphan in Indonesia to secretly take the place of a murdered heir to a vast fortune. Apparently raised to become a costumed vigilante whose mission is to target the criminals among his peers in the world’s billionaire elite, he’s Batman, the Neal Adams/Denny O’Neil-era Green Arrow, and the Punisher all rolled into one.
Andrews’ writing in this issue deals in gauche caricatures—the long-time Marvel Comics artist has never been known for his subtlety as a writer, and Renato Jones: The One % isn’t looking likely to change that perception. The broad characterizations might disappoint readers expecting a more understated satirical touch and a more nuanced reading of contemporary politics, but if nothing else, they pair well with the bold chiaroscuro of Andrews’ inks and the brash visual storytelling.
Andrews’ art—he handles the pencils, inks, and colors—is this issue’s strongest aspect, reminiscent as it is of the work of prime, Sin City-era Frank Miller. There’s a delicious irony to this stylistic juxtaposition, given the seeming diametric opposition of the comic’s thematic remit and the outspoken Miller’s criticism of popular movements against economic inequality.
With the changeling conceit that underpins its lead character’s origins, the thematic focus on the widening income (and morality) gap between the world’s poor and the extremely rich, and its vigilante antics, Renato Jones: The One % #1 reads like a bizarre agitprop interpretation of Little Lord Fauntleroy, filtered through a grindhouse sensibility. It’s not going to be for everybody, but Andrews’ commitment to his craft is impressive—Andrews is a brilliant renderer and is one of the industry’s premier visual storytellers—and there’s a satisfying, affective pleasure to be extracted from the freakish violence of the comic’s central wish-fulfillment fantasy. One hopes, however, that the work will offer more than that down the line.