The solicitation in Previews showed a simple cover: a cartoony kid in a action-pose crouch, with a mask covering his mouth and nose, and feet big enough to share sneakers with DC’s kid speedster Impulse. The crisp, confident style said, “quality“. The blurb, with its talk of a bubblegum recipe, said “fun“. And the page-count and price (64 pages for $2.95) said “bargain“. As you’ve probably figured out, I ordered it.

When I got it, I quickly figured out how it manages to provide twice as many pages for the usual indy price. The book is slightly-more-than-digest-sized: 7¾"x5½". For simple black an white line art like this, that’s big enough, and makes for a nice, small-but-thick package.

The plot can be summed up pretty easily: Jet fights and/or dodges his way through a series of attempts to stop him on his “mission”. Unfortunately, I had a hard time figuring out what his mission was, who all of these people were, and why they were out to get him. One of the villains does the standard tell-the-hero-what-his-plan-is gloating (to kill
time while waiting for one of his lackeys to get the device set up to kill him) near the end, but it unravels only part of the confusion. No big deal, the point is to enjoy the ride.

The dialog gets a bit awkward at times, mixing kidspeak with purple prose even in a single word balloon. (e.g. “Why don’t you jack-booted thugs just go down there and stick a gun up each person’s nose and start demanding that they tell you about something they know nothing about?! ‘Cuz that would be tantamount to what you’re doin’ to me right now, alright?” I don’t know anyone who talks like that, not even when they’re posturing. The dialog is peppered with “god damn”s, but Jet uses “heck” and gratuitous “friggin”s, which also jars me as inconsistent. I think it’s supposed to be cute, but I’m not sure.

Hong does succeed with some pretty good comedic bits throughout the book. Most of them done visually, such as Jet’s fight with an equally young, equally skilled assassin with equally large feet. Hong does a good job of conveying action and motion in these scenes as well, with well-timed pacing, betraying a obviously strong Japanese manga influence.

The art is carefully and effectively drawn. Hong’s layouts are very good, and his draftsmanship is excellent, making straight lines straight, but with other shapes just as crisp. This consistency works against the art a bit, however, because every line is equally heavy. He’s skilled with whatever pen he uses, but it’s the only pen he uses. Combined with the fact that Jet’s mask, undershirt, and gloves are among the few things that are actually filled in with black, (most objects are just outlines, with a little hatching), it makes for rather white, low-contrast pages. The backgrounds are kept very simple or left out altogether, but with Hong’s inking style, that’s a wise choice, because detailed backgrounds would probably clutter things up.

Jet isn’t going to set the world on fire. But for what I assume is a first self-published effort, it’s pretty polished and well done. I gather that this is not Hong’s first Jet story (both from the character’s apparent history within the story and from the consistent, comfortable way he’s drawn), nor does he intend it to be the last (the caption “THE END ???” on page 65 kinda gives that away). And true to my first impressions, it provided some quality fun at a bargain.

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