Review: Footprints #1

Joey Esposito's story about a hard-boiled Bigfoot and his crew of mythical operatives has potential, but a lot to prove.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Footprints #1

Footprints #1 is an independent book from writer Joey Esposito and artist Jonathan Moore that has the potential to grow into something interesting, but it's going to have to grow pretty fast to mark itself as something different from its obvious influences.

The story is as follows:  Bigfoot and Yeti are two furry brothers who can't stand each other and haven't seen one another in years – until a letter from Yeti arrives at Bigfoot's apartment in New York City, prompting Mr. Foot to go on a trek to the mountains, only to discover his brother's been murdered.  So this hard-boiled detective sasquatch has to pull together an old team of "cryptid" creatures – made up of other mythical creatures like the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra and the Megalodon, who have no real love for him – to try and find some answers about the killer, believed to be their old enemy Motheresa (which is a pretty a clever name). 

As you might surmise, it reads like a cross between Fables and B.P.R.D. with a pulp style – hardly the worst of influences to draw from, of course.  Bigfoot in particular feels a lot like early Bigby Wolf – probably a little too much so – and as cool as the noir gumshoe archetype is, it's also common enough to border on trite, depending on the mood you're in when you're reading it.  The fact that he's going around with his "Choop" on a leash and harassing former Nazis doesn't help with the Hellboy comparisons, either. Esposito has a fertile premise, but he'll need to hit the ground running with the next couple of issues to make it stick.

However, he might already have that necessary hook with Nessie, who looks to be headed for a fairly twisted kind of character arc.  It seems she's some kind of shapeshifting spy, and her job is to "sleep with who she can for intel" much to the chagrin of her apparent mate, the Megalodon, who is relegated to the shark tank with the venerable "Aquaman is lame" motif while the others do all the legwork.  Now whether or not Nessie can actually take human form or if she just shifts in size and goes around boffing other cryptid creatures for information is a big question, and it's possible this could become particularly bent if Esposito is setting up for a bunch of freaky monster nooky.  Whether anybody actually wants to see that is another story, but it would certainly be different.  All bets are off with small press publishing.

Even the mentally-scarring subject matter like that has its niche in comic books – read any Meatman issue of Preacher for confirmation – but it would require the artist to go for broke on the splash pages.  Unfortunately, that's probably more than we can expect out of Moore at this point.  His black and white work fits the book adequately, although it still feels a bit amateurish – but hey, everybody's got to start somewhere, and he's certainly got potential to grow – just like Footprints itself.

Rest assured, that's all just a tentative hypothesis.  Esposito is most likely not going to turn this into a book into a cryptozoological orgy freakshow and we'll all be the better for that.  It'll likely remain a flavorful murder mystery worth giving a chance to find its legs.  Or feet, since it's sure got some big ones.