Review: Yoga Joe #1

Where is your happy place?  Is it in the bath with candles and soft plinky plonk music?  Is it surrounded by boxes of comic books that need sorting out?  Is it that one second when you look at your partner and just smile, for the briefest of moments, certain in the knowledge that they are the one?

Whatever or whenever your particular peace of mind is, it is the sort of moment that Yoga Joe is looking to extend into a lifestyle.  To be fair, he is isn’t doing so bad; having found a peace within himself he has reached the fabled Namastery and found more like-minded spirits.  But whilst the power of yoga may well give inner peace, it also allows the flow of strength from the Vortex.  As you would expect, with great power comes a batch of people who want it for their own nefarious needs and it is up to Joe and his new friends to save the world, save the vortex, breathe, stretch and relax!

Chris Mead is the writer, providing the words to a story by Dan Abramson.  With a new writing duo it is hard to see where the story melds into the writing and vice verse.  Plot wise, the book has a Shirtless Bear Fighter feel, that is made more apparent in the art.  There are other influences in play and not just the yoga positions.  Each of the characters fit an archetype from the walking wounded to the hard-ass female of the group.  I don’t have a problem with any of this to be honest; in fact I found myself smiling at some of the humour early on.  It’s when Joe gets to the Namastery that the wheels start falling off the wagon for me.  I can see the quality of the idea behind the book, but a this point, it just feels to similar to other things for my tastes.  Still the dialogue is engaging and does its jobs of introducing characters and situations well enough.

PK Olsen provides the art in which its complexity is beguiled by the apparent simplicity of a cartoony style.  Characters are over elaborated, with muscles on top of muscles.  But before people start thinking of Liefeld, this is done with more style with a clear eye on the funny side of the characters.  In fact the over developed physiques help with the crazy idea how yoga is used in the book.  As mentioned, there are elements of Shirtless on show, so I guess how you view the art may well be through the prism of an homage.  The colors are provided a raft of people in Jeremiah Skipper, Bryan Valenza and Bruno Cotic.  I am not sure how the trio work; does each take a specific environment or do they all work on the same panels adding textures until they are done?  Either way, the colors in the book are fantastic throughout.  Legendary album cover and sword and sorcery artist Ken Kelly provides a cover that wholly depicts the quality of the production values in this book.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then the Shirtless creators should feel pretty flattered.  This is not meant to sound harsh, after all for every Coca Cola can there is a Pepsi Cola can.  Still, when reading Yoga Joe, please bear in mind that whilst the door to this particular brand of humour may well have been opened by books that have gone before Yoga Joe, it takes a talented bunch of creators to run through the door and show us what is on the other side.

Yoga Joe Issue One can be purchased from http://www.yogajoes.com/

Writing – 3 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Cover – 5 Stars

Written by, Dan Abramson & Chris Mead
Art by; PK Olsen
Color by, Jeremiah Skipper, Bryan Valenza & Bruno Cotic
Cover by, Ken Kelly

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