Apama: The Undiscovered Animal Review

Just what is an Apama, anyway?
For ice cream truck driver Ilyia Zjarsky, it’s a beginning of a new life.
The down-on-his-luck protagonist discovers the secret to an ancient being while on a hike, a secret that takes weeks to solve or even begin to understand.
The suit he finds gives him super powers like speed, strength, agility, and near-feral instincts.
Also, it allows him to communicate with animals, like his pet rat, Liza.
In this trade paperback’s first volume, Apama tangles with some pretty bad dudes, including the Lawnmower Man (a guy who can make blades fly and swirl), a tentacled monster unleashed when the United States bombs the moon, and the so-called “Psycho-delic High-Priestess of Helltown.”
There’s a lot of humor (one finds the creators of this comic book with tongues firmly planted in cheeks) which makes the series so refreshing!
In Apama’s encounter with the Lawnmower Man, the pair practically knock each other out. The whole fight has a feel like when Abbott meets Costello.
And he has a social conscience, tearing apart an executive office of oil giant United Federal when the company tries to downplay the severity of a massive oil leak somewhere offshore.
His relationship (if you can call it that) with Vica, a waitress who works in the diner beneath his apartment, is reminiscent of Peter Parker’s fixation with Mary Jane Watson. His dismal attempts at pursuing a romantic situation with her strike a chord with every nebbish out there.
We’re rooting for Ilyia – he’s a regular guy given a chance to be much more than he ever imagined. We want him to beat the bad guys, to win the girl. We want him to quit his crappy job with the even crappier boss and take his place in the pantheon of superheroes like Spider-Man.
The cover of the trade calls the story “An offbeat saga unlike anything you’ve ever seen!” and it’s true. The Apama storyline offers a fresh look at what appears to be Native American folklore as well as a unique take on the superhero’s origin.
The dialogue and story move at a nice, brisk pace.
The artwork is top-notch. Benito Gallego, who lives In Spain, has evidently (according to Brad Ricca in the foreword) captured the landscape and the vibe of Cleveland, where the story takes place.
Writer/Color Artist/Letterer Ted Sikora, writer Milo Miller, and artist Gallego have put together a title that feels like a bronze age Marvel comic book and reads like it must have been a lot of fun creating it.