Every now and then the comic industry gains a new publisher with big ideas and aspirations but nothing to back it up. Lion Forge Comics is not one of those publishers. Springing onto the scene not too long ago, Lion Forge had a different plan; they would hit the market with a whole slew of licensed properties with high profile creative teams, using nostalgia to bring in the readers. And it seems to have worked. They entered the industry with such properties as the unconventional Miami Vice: Remix by Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood, Airwolf by Karl Kesel, Mark Andreyko and others, and Knight Rider by Chuck Dixon, B. Clay Moore, and others, as well as Punky Brewster, Saved by the Bell, and more. Knowing that a big chunk of their readership would be of the age when these titles would be looked back on fondly it was a smart move.
Using these titles as a springboard for their original titles Joshua Run, Crystal Cadets, Chosen, Quincredible and more, they took a chance that has paid off. Using these licensed titles to show the quality they are capable of without starting off with unknown properties was a smart move. And they are high quality books. I got my hands on Airwolf: Airstrikes and Knight Rider: Knightstrikes, being a big fan of these as television series back in the day. They did not disappoint.
Airstrikes the second volume of Airwolf stories picks up right where the first left off, in an anthology of exciting stories starring Stringfellow Hawke and Dominic Santini, and of course the coolest nuclear powered attack helicopter in existence. Each story is a stand-alone with slight connective elements that can be read in any order, and each has its pros and cons. The writing is pretty spot-on, and each writer gets what made the TV series so great.
The first story by Jeff Mariotte is a stand-out for me, and Mike Baron and Mark Andreyko never disappoint. All of the writers give us their best, with exciting stories full of over-the-top 80s action and dialog that moves the story forward while keeping the humor of the source material. The art is decent to exceptional depending on the story, with the artists getting the characters’ likenesses down. The coloring is fantastic and easily rivals that of the Big Two.
Knightstrikes is also a second volume, and features short stories of Michael Knight and his talking super-car KITT as they go up against threats from around the world. Much like Airstrikes, Knight Rider: Knightstrikes is an anthology series that takes place after the events of the first trade, and while each short story has its cons, the pros far outweigh them.
Chuck Dixon and Shannon Eric Denton were born to write the adventures of the coolest car since the Batmobile, but each of the writers has their own unique spin on the characters that are a pleasure to read. Brian Denham is my favorite artist on these stories, capturing the characters’ likenesses pitch perfectly, but Jason Johnson and JB Bastos bring their own distinctive styles to the book. The coloring makes the pages pop, but never draws your attention away from the action.
These are the only two series I’ve read thus far from Lion Forge, but if the other books keep up the quality seen here I’ll be checking some of them out. It’s nice to see a start-up publisher bringing such quality to the market, and I hope for great things once they really start putting out more original material.
Both Airwolf: Airstrikes and Knight Rider: Knightstrikes are available now wherever comics are sold.