Saturday Webcomic: Propeller is a Hitchcock-inspired thriller—with superpowers

What if one of the schemers of Alfred Hitchcock's movies had superstrength or psychic powers or the ability to keep witnesses from delivering exposition in front of the police? Rex, the central character in Ricardo Mo and Alberto Muriel's webcomic thriller Propeller wears a pair of specially designed bracelets that give him the ability to teleport objects with a single push. But when he uses his abilities to thwart a bank robbery, Rex's secret might be blown. Soon he's receiving blackmail threats and is on the verge of ruining his best friend's marriage. And that's forgetting the fact that Rex took home a little souvenir from that bank robbery...

Rex Baldwin is a wealthy layabout who blew his inheritance collecting the inventions of Vorlaufer, a German scientist once forced to work for the Nazi regime. Most of Vorlaufer's devices, it seems, were a bust, but at least one, the propeller bracelets, works like a superpowered charm. Then, one fateful day, Rex is caught up in a bank robbery and takes the propeller bracelets for a real-world test drive. Rex takes down the robbers, but exposes his abilities in front of dozens of witnesses, witnesses he tries to swear to secrecy. None of this pleases Hud, Rex's only friend and his voice of reason, who thinks he should give the bracelets a rest. Rex thinks that's an insane suggestion, at least until the first blackmailer shows up.

One of the witnesses from the bank begins following Rex around, threatening to expose his secret unless Rex pays him a million dollars. Plus, there's a cop questioning him about the robbery. All that might not be so bad if Rex hadn't used his bracelets to enact a little robbery of his own.

While Propeller opens with a bit of action, writer Ricardo Mo keeps it paced as a thriller, zooming in on the relationships between the characters. This is a story where a spoken threat can be as frightening as a gun; after all, it's information that is superpowered Rex's greatest fear. Part of the comic's first chapter is drawn by Henry Ponciano, but it hits its visual stride when Alberto Muriel—whose art is a much better match for a crime drama—takes over. The combination creates a sense of urgency and mystery that leaves us wondering how Rex will protect his mounting secrets—and who will get hurt in the process.

[Propeller]