Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Electric Man: the Comic Book Dreams Are Made of

Nobody opens a comic shop to make their fortune or impress women.  The co-owner of Deadhead Comics in Edinburgh is doing particularly poorly on both scores, but his knowledge of early superheroes will help him navigate a caper involving an ultra-rare comic in David Barras’s Electric Man (trailer here), which releases today on DVD, with a VOD launch to follow this Friday.

Jason “Jazz” Archer is the responsible one.  His partner Wolf is the unlikely goofball ladies man.  They were kind of sort of making a go of it with their comic shop, but now find themselves on the hook for 5,000 pounds worth of repairs.  That sum is simply beyond their means, but they carry on hoping will lightning strike out of the blue, which it does.

Electric Man (a.k.a. Edison Bolt) predated the Man of Steel by one year.  A gritty depression era hero (whose origin story is related in the cool motion comic opening credit sequence), his premiere issue regularly fetches 100,000 pounds at auctions.  At their latest comic show, someone stashed a stolen copy of Electric Man #1 in their boxes.  Hoping for a business-saving finder’s fee, Archer attempts to track down the rightful owner.  The trail leads him to Lauren McCall, the mysterious daughter of a wealthy collector, her thuggish uncle, and a slightly cracked American Electric Man fanatic.

Electric is an affectionately knowing valentine to geeky cult culture, choked full of clever references and a generous helping of local Edinburgh color.  Shot for pocket change, its cast is a bit of a mixed bag, but Toby Manley is engagingly earnest as Archer.  Likewise, Jennifer Ewing (online host of Crazy Sexy Geeks) has the right look and presence of a comic convention femme fatale.  As the scheming Uncle Jimmy, Derek Dick (a.k.a. Fish) looks and sounds like he could have stepped out of a Ken Loach movie, which is a good thing in this context.  Unfortunately, Mark McKirdy is rather annoyingly shticky as Wolf, never convincingly realizing his supposed scruffy charms on-screen.

Despite the occasional limitations of cast and resources, Electric is a light hearted romp that consistently inspires gentle chuckles rather than gut-busting laughs.  A refreshing respite from special effects, gross out humor, and grimy social realism, Electric Man should amply please its target ComicCon demographic.  Recommended for comic readers and fans of understated indie comedies, Electric Man is now available on DVD and hits VOD this Friday (9/13), via FilmBuff’s platforms.