By James Robinson & Paul Smith
With George Freeman, Jeromy Cox and Amie Grenier
Review by Luke Williams
The curtailed, 13-issue and, unbelievably, 25-year-old Leave it to Chance came out under Jim Lee / Wildstorm’s short-lived Homage Studios imprint, still available today in three collections. This was a period of Image’s history when the company seemed to be fragmenting, creating imprints like they were going out of fashion, but attracted some big name creators.
Homage was also home to Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s much celebrated Astro City and a relaunch of Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise.
British comics writer James Robinson and American artist Paul Smith’s award-winning, short-lived but ambitious series tells the tale of Chance Falconer, a young girl with a hankering to follow in her father’s footsteps. Dad Lucas Falconer is the protector of Devil’s Echo from all things supernatural, disfigured and losing his wife in an attack by his sworn enemy Miles Belloc. He maintains a vigil over the city working in conjunction with eh local police force to combat supernatural threats.
His daughter, the titular Chance, sees herself as the next in line as protector of the city, much to her protective father’s chagrin. Secretly, Chance is encouraged by the family butler, whilst the family housekeeper fusses over her and tries to stop her being so wayward, but there is too much Falconer in Chance for her to sit idly by.
Chance experiences all manner of supernatural threats, giant toads, undead hockey players, ghostly pirates (seemingly a favourite with James Robinson), dragons, Universal movie monsters and a homage to the phantom of the opera. All the while Chance stays one step ahead of her admonishing father.
Smith had come to fame through a celebrated run on Uncanny X-Men and work on Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus in the 1980s. Robinson and Smith had previously worked together on the seemingly forgotten Golden Age prestige format mini from DC in the early nineties. Smith’s lines are cartoony and beautiful, with a lovely feeling of movement aided and abetted for much of the run by George Freeman, set off by Jeromy Cox’s sumptuous colours.
It’s a handsome book that has many similarities with Robinson’s work on DC’s Starman: generational heroes, themes of family, heritage, duty, a strong sense of place and a young person coming of age. Although dealing with the supernatural, it’s a charming all ages book with a great and varied cast of characters.
Publication was slow, taking six years to publish the 13 issues. Each arc was clearly building into a overarching storyline, which means that its abrupt ending with issue 13 left readers with lots of dangling plot threads and on a cliff-hanger.
A quick browse of the internet suggests that the book it wasn’t selling, but arguably these days it would likely get a greater traction under the Image banner, being seen as a champion on creator owned independent, as against Image then, which was more well known as publishers of loud, flashy superhero comics.
Short, but sweet. An overlooked gem.
Please note, these Image Comics collections only include #1 – 11. The full run has yet to be collected and doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon