The Intimates #1, January 2005, Wildstorm Productions
writer: Joe Casey
artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee, & Sandra Hope
colorist: Randy Mayor
letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Rob Steen
editor: Ben Abernathy
Blogger's note: Entry for Tuesday, April 15, 2008.
High school is the only four-year period of your life that absolutely rules you forever. You vividly remember every success and failure from high school as if they happened yesterday, whether you care to admit it or not. You'll never love your husband or wife now as passionately as you loved your prom date then, unless your husband or wife was your prom date, in which case now you wish you went with someone else. You'll spend the rest of your life either running from or back to those four (or more, depending) most formidable years, but you'll never get there, either way. Why else do we have high school reunions? What else in our lives warrants a reunion? Elementary school and college usually doesn't elicit the need to reunite. Old jobs? No way. See, high school is to our lives what 1955 is to Back to the Future -- somehow, you'll always end up there.
Enter The Intimates, high school for superheroes. Yes, the idea has been done before in Stan Lee's original X-Men, what with Professor Xavier and his school for gifted youngsters, but The Intimates takes that sliver of the X-Men mythology and expands into a series all its own, emphasizing the teacher/student dynamic, and exploiting the adolescent angst. Also, these kids aren't outcasts like Professor X's mutant apprentices, instead they're more like Avengers in training. They know their lives will be dedicated to selfless heroism, so, like most "youngsters," they're taking advantage of these high school years to indulge themselves. Didn't you?
The opening scene of this first issue is what inspired my parallel to high school, as writer Joe Casey presents the reader a proverbial Breakfast Club of young superheroes, from the jock to the wiseguy, from the brain to the snob, to the goth girl so shunned that she is, literally, invisible. These characters fit and maintain their molds pretty steadily throughout the issue, and Casey is careful to exploit their relationships without blowing his wad in this inaugural chapter, leaving plenty of potential for the rest of this series. Interestingly, while the professors in this superhero seminary should be superb role models, presumably having once set a high moral standard for society as a successful do-gooder, the teachers are the most comedic characters of all, including a Sgt. Slaughter type coach that steals the show (in my opinion). Under the obvious art direction of Jim Lee, Giuseppe Camuncoli pulls off the impossible and makes the high school experience uniquely dramatic, unlike countless 'tween television dramas that . . . oh, you know what I mean.
Of course, we are experiencing this brand of "heroic high school" vicariously, which makes the experience less guilt-ridden and more pleasurable. Yes, we've all wondered what high school would've been like if we had superpowers -- Haven't we? The opportunities to impress the chicks, get revenge on the bullies . . . but, don't forget, they'd have superpowers, too. What use would invisibility have against the tough guy with X-ray eyes? How could an insecure pencilneck impress a psychic girl when she can see past his optic beams right into his quirky neuroses? Perhaps some things are best left in the funnypages.
The most unique aspect of The Intimates is its tickertape caption at the bottom of every page, sometimes offering insight into the background of this little universe, sometimes distracting us with chuckle-worthy irrelevant factoids. It's as if Casey understands the attention deficit disorder high school elicits and is responding with the very notes we might doodle ourselves in the margins of our notebooks.
Speaking of writing things in the margins, the thought just now occurs to me. Dig up that old high school yearbook. The class pictures, the montages . . . Doesn't it look like a photographic comic book? Ah, yes, high school -- reality's own infinite crisis.