The Leading Man

The Leading Man
The Leading Man review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Oni Press - 1-93266-457-2
  • Release date: 2007
  • UPC: 9781932664577
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Thriller

Nick Walker has a life pretty well any guy would envy, a leading Hollywood action film star ranked in People magazine’s hundred sexiest people, but what the public know is only the half of it. He’s actually a government agent whose roles are selected to give him maximum opportunity to carry out investigations on behalf of what’s presumably meant to be the FBI.

No, the premise doesn’t withstand much scrutiny, but neither do those of several successful action film franchises, meaning its all in the presentation, and B. Clay Moore’s plot stays just the right side of knowing. Nick is clean cut and bland, and while filming on the French coast he’s ordered to check out a lighthouse, discovering a well constructed secret training base beneath, the facilities stretching under the rocks.

Moore throws just enough twists into the plot to keep it on the boil, but what lets The Leading Man down is the unimaginative layouts of artist Jeremy Haun. He keeps his job simple by just drawing the people, preferably large and up close, barely adding a few scribbles for background, and a lot of the time just leaving it to a splodge of colour. You know how all those folk credited on a movie take around five minutes to scroll up a screen? Well, on Nick’s movie sets there’s barely five people to be seen. Accept the limitations and the actual drawing is fine, showing how the cast feel at any given moment and moving them through their paces.

For much of the story Nick is dead weight, but Moore eventually lets him cut loose, showing why he’s more than just an actor. Anyone with a mind alert for possible complications will probably figure out the final chapter surprise, but Moore keeps that door open for a possible sequel. It never arrived, which is because The Leading Man just lacks sparkle. Moore has the mood of James Bond just about down, but Nick isn’t endearing enough, very few of the supporting cast move beyond one-dimensional, and the art always takes the easy option instead of the best one.