Comic Review: Renato Jones: The One%

In Comic Books, Image by Regan Lorie3 Comments

Who IS Renato Jones? The title character of Kaare Kyle Andrews’ Renato Jones: The One% has many faces indeed: vigilante, orphan, impostor, to name a few. While these are all fairly familiar comic-book tropes, the star of writer-artist-creator Andrews’ series is a unique new hero dedicated to a most impressive cause: protecting and avenging the 99% against the rich and ruthless.
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The man who identifies himself as Renato Jones is also a member of the 1% by all appearances, and uses his class to infiltrate the lifestyles of the rich and psychotic to exact revenge as his alter ego, nicknamed The Freelancer by his target demographic (“because no one knows who the fuck he works for or where the fuck he came from,” according to one victim-to-be). As the issue unfolds and we accompany the undercover avenger on one of his opulent missions, the backstory of how he came to be Renato Jones is told in episodic flashbacks, beginning with his childhood in the slums of Jakarta (yep, you read that right) and culminating in the present in a climactic showdown against one especially super-rich, super-evil super asshat.
Andrews’ multifaceted, non-linear storyline packs an impressive punch for its debut issue; I’ve read one-shots with much less sturm und drang. The fact that this is just the tip of the iceberg left me very excited to see what adventures are to come in future issues (and, admittedly, saying a tiny prayer that this comic hasn’t blown its load in the first installment…but mostly just excited for the aforementioned further adventures). Though its underlying theme is pretty dark, the comic as a whole retains a cheeky cleverness and a modern grit as well as a classic superhero-story tone and aesthetic (with a slight manga edge) throughout. The vintage feel visually materializes in the origin-story sequences: flashback panels are set on appropriately weathered, creased-looking pages with vector-y textures, just one example of Andrews’ painstaking attention to detail. Other visual treats include the occasional full-page designer perfume parody ad (featuring Resting Bitchface Barbie-looking models and hilarious double-entendres like “Luxury: You’ll pay for it” as slogans) and the stunningly bold, imperative splash pages that brilliantly bring some of the story’s key turning points and dynamic fight sequences to life.
Originality and creative liberty clearly mean a lot to Andrews, and it shows not only in his finished product, but also in the impassioned prose of his afterword, in which he implores his comic-creator-hopeful readers in particular to keep their artistic fires blazing “in a world of remakes and remixes, reimaginings and reboots”. Renato Jones’ byline proudly proclaims “Created, written, drawn and OWNED by Kaare Kyle Andrews (and from the implications, ownership was not an easy road for Andrews),” and the artist’s passion and devotion to this project emanates from every page.
A slick, action-packed stunner of a crazy origin story, this comic truly has it all: explosive face-offs, black humor to spare, villains you love to hate, a plot full of twists and secrets, and at its center, a mysterious modern-day Robin Hood (of sorts) with a taste for true vengeance.

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