Titis A. Shires only recently released his masterpiece of comedic genre-bending gold last year. Despite being privately funded and creating the work almost completely solo, he has already managed to publish his 13th issue! For those of you unfamiliar with this indie darling, Flair Loops, I don’t want to spoil too much but suffice to say it is a seamless blend of wacky superhero antics, Car-Fu and teenage love drama all rolled into one. The main hero, Jake Sito, is top of his class by day, and king of an underground street racing circuit. The guys wanna be him, the girls wanna be with him, and everything in his life is going great! Until he loses his first race. Distraught over his loss, he makes a deal with the devil which gives him superhuman reflexes, but with one unfortunate side effect: he has to act as over-the-top as possible. Ridiculous stunt jump? He has to take it? Walls between him and his enemy? Oh you know he has to flip over them Matrix-style. And with the ladies? Well let’s just say Tuxedo Mask would tell him he’s being too dramatic. So with twelve stylized adventures already out and our hero being pushed to his absolute limit in the last one, how has Shires managed to capture our attention with the latest issue?
Well, by revealing that the protagonist is about to die.
Shires was deeply invested in the character of Jake Sito – this much is clear. But he’s been dropping hints for a while that Sito was just a setup character for who he deems will be the true main character of the arc going forward. Last month Issue #12 revealed that Sito had randomly been losing the ability to smell (thus allowing his heavily cologned antagonist Puma D. Meane, to escape him unnoticed). The cliffhanger indicated that Dr. Cosby Umace Heavensward was about to reveal something earth-shattering about his condition, but there was nothing definitive about what that might be.
The fan theories ran rampant, suggesting everything from the potential of a long-term coma, to a dream sequence, to robots, to one particularly unrealistic theory about Sito actually being an elaborate hoax created by a bored writer. Shires commented about this ambiguity in a Reddit AMA:
“The idea was to let the most popular fan theory dictate what would actually happen. Since this is independently financed I like to think that the fans are part writer and their ideas about what is going on in my story arc should take precedence over my own artistic vision.”
He later clarified his statement on Twitter:
“Yes, I am saying obsessive Youtubers are more capable of telling a story than I am.”
We learn that Sito has been infected with a rare disorder that he acquired from the tank of poisoned Spam back in Issue #7: Drumset Duet. During that time Sito managed to lock up the drag racer known as Victorious Venom. Well, he’s out of prison and ready for another race. Dr. Heavensward tries to warn Sito, but in his usual brazenly carelessness Sito opts to simply hear the news “when he’s finished the race.”
What follows are some of the best bits of car-racing action ever put to pen and ink, complete with Sito’s usual flair. Fans of Victorious Venom will be happy to know that his much beloved rocket-powered boot is back in action, at one point knocking Sito’s car into 13 consecutive fruit stands (a fun, if somewhat on the nose Easter Egg about this being the thirteenth issue).
It’s in the final lap when it looks like Sito might just barely catch up that tragedy strikes. The devil appears in the middle of the road for just one frame and then there are three solid pages of black ink with just a single word of dialogue throughout.
In a bold artistic decision Shires decides to have the follow 10 pages be a brief encapsulated history of the world from Big Bang to present, seeming to indicate that the death of Sito has resulted in time and all eternity starting over. And what happens next? Well we find out that we aren’t with Sito anymore, but a new character who looks almost exactly like him, has all of his abilities, but for some reason is named Tidis S. Allnighter. Obviously this is a self-insert of Titis Shires himself, but what does this mean for the character of Jake Sito? Only time will tell. I don’t know about you but I am excited to see what happens next month in Issue #14: A Ghost Indignation.
So what did I think? Well the fact that half the comic was essentially white noise and foreshadowing did mean that we were left wanting a lot more, but the action sequence was pretty damn good and that off-the-cuff one-liner about the GDP of Uzbekistan was great. The coloration is solid as always and the paper is pleasantly crinkly and smells really great when I take it out of the protective bag.
I give it a 5 out of 7.