A world blessed with advanced technology and arcane arts thanks to some extra-terrestrial visitors, some seriously cool heroes protecting it from all sorts of weird and wacky threats and a kid with the powers of an ancient monkey king past onto him. All the ingredients are there in Leaders of the Free World #1 but I think this dish needs to be left in a little longer with a comic thats feels so excited to show itself off to you all at once it can come across as a little overwhelming and jarring.
Leaders of the Free World #1 is written by Corey Pruitt, with artwork from Elijah Isaiah Johnson, Ross Hughes, and Toben Racicot and it doesn’t exactly ease you into its story but rather sets you off at 100 MPH from the start. There’s so much to take in with Leaders of the Free World it did at times feel over-the-top and in your face. One minute we’re getting a very fast recap on the Godsends and their arrival on earth to then talking about ancient Monkey King powers to then talking about wrestling and alien invasions. Don’t get me wrong there’s plenty to pick apart and appreciate in Leaders of the Free World but be prepared to strap yourself in for one hell of a ride as the issues pacing might be a slight turn-off for some. When Leaders of the Free World works however it works great. This futuristic blend between science and the arcane is fascinating and results in some wonderful characters and fantastic action. What did stand out to me was the little details such as holographic signs in school corridors which would totally fit in a world where science has improved ten-fold. It’s those small additions that really went a long way to making the world feel fleshed out and in a strange sense real. Well, as real as one can get when it has a flying dog in it and aliens from outer-space. Our main character Cong was also one of the issues biggest strong points. Despite the whole ancient Monkey King powers thing he was surprisingly relatable and serves as a good window for the audience to look through into his crazy world. Like I previously mentioned the issue spends most of its time setting up the world and introducing us to its characters, and it has its hands full but a pretty interesting ending lends itself well to set up its following issues.
There is a good amount to love about Leaders of the free world and its worth the small bit of digging you have to do to uncover it.
As you can probably tell by the issues cover art, its characters are easily the best part of the whole story. The whole issue has this Guardian’s of the Galaxy feel to it but if they were turned up to 11. A healthy dose of gags and lighthearted humor sprinkled throughout goes a long way to making these characters very likable. We’ll start with Cong, who is easily the issue best asset. He’s enjoyable when he’s around, relatable, has a very interesting backstory and best of all has a wicked tail and can fly around on clouds. Tell me that doesn’t sound cool. Despite all his extraordinary attributes he is a nice anchor point for the audience to come back to if the rest of the comic ever gets a bit OTT. Congs friend “Cage” was a nice source of comic relief and I really bought into his and Cains friendship. Reminded almost of Peter and Ned’s friendship from Spider-Man: Homecoming. Both friends bond over a common hero of theirs; Brotha Nature. Godsend descendant and professional wrestler. If you couldn’t tell by his name he is a dab-hand at manipulating the powers of nature and does so to great effect in a truly epic wrestling match. Brotha Nature was humanized quite a bit when we see his relationship with his mum but I’d hope to see his more human side expressed in-depth in future issues.
We get a small look at a couple other leaders of the free world near the end with some epic action involving Tech-No a hero who utilize advanced technology and appears to have a problem with the Archetypes who are people with powers passed down from Godsends. Moonshine, who despite kicking some major ass definitely lives up to her name, and finally the adorable Doohickey, the flying dog who can turn into any weapon on demand. Still would pet. All of these look really cool and are what intrigue me the most for the next issue. At first, I was a little disappointed we didn’t see all the heroes shown off on the cover but there just inst enough space to fit them in, in this already crowded issue so it was a fine compromise.
I mentioned earlier how Leaders of the Free World had a Guardians of the Galaxy feel to it and it isn’t just the cast of characters that create that. The whole issue pops with bright, vibrant, neon colors. At first, I thought it would be too much but it, to my surprise, just works, especially with the completely over-the-top ideas for some of the characters and their powers. It gives the whole comic this energetic life behind it which does contribute the issues ludicrous speed but also makes it look damn good as it flies past.
Leaders of the Free World feels like a real back to basics comic. Over-the-top action and characters, with dazzling colors and a good helping of humor, mixed in. It did suffer from some pacing issues at least for me but if you can look past that, Leaders of the Free World is at its core a really fun ride.