A couple new takes on sci-fi comics worth noting are hitting shelves today, so here I go, noting them:
“The Hypernaturals” (Boom!): As I wrote about the Free Comic Book Day preview of this new series, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are no strangers to futuristic superteams. Among other things, they’ve written for DC’s “Legion of Super-Heroes” and Marvel’s equivalent, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Now they bring their own future superheroes to the page with this new book, and consider me intrigued.
I can’t say I was a huge fan of their run on “Legion of Super-Heroes,” my favorite team. But they did do some interesting things with the book. Since this is a blank canvas for them, they have no long-time fans to worry about ticking off so they can run free and explore their characters and create their worlds.
This issue and the Free Comic Book Day edition, which doesn’t completely overlap with this first issue, are on the talky side, but they have a lot of setting up to do: In this future, the galaxy, now known as the Quantinuum, has been colonized, and transport portals conveniently provide a quick way to get from planet to planet.
The Hypernaturals are a 100-year-old super team with a frequently shifting membership. The most recent team has disappeared while checking into a problem, leaving only a couple former members and a couple trainees to see what’s happened to them. One former member is now the PR person for the team, and the other has become a professor. The threat appears to be an old enemy thought to be safely locked away.
It’s a strong set-up with a couple dynamic teams to look at. It’s not clear what happened to the first one to go to the planet, so there’s always the chance they’ll run into each other. You’ve got some of the standard powers (speed, strength, intellect) and a few that are more creative (second sight, scanning). I really hope they do run into each other because the first team (as seen in the FCBD story) had the more interesting characters.
My big concern at this point is the art. Over two issues, there have been three artists, including co-creator Brad Walker. All three are fine, and I’d be happy with any one of them, but it’s jarring to see the switches in style. They’ve been hyping the book for a while, so that means it’s been in the works even longer. You’d think they’d have it stabilized. And if it’s on purpose, it just doesn’t work for me.
But I’ve always been more of a story guy, so if Abnett and Lanning can keep up the momentum, I might have a new book for my pull.
“Atomic Robo: Flying She-Devils of the South Pacific” (Red 5): OK, “Atomic Robo” isn’t exactly new, but this is the latest first issue in a series of miniseries, the seventh to be exact, of one of my favorite comic book characters ever.
And while you can’t beat reading the entire run, each miniseries stands fairly well on its own, so here’s a great chance to jump on. (If you’re a new reader, I wouldn’t bother with “Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures” #3, also out this week. It’s part of an anthology that isn’t generally as good as the original.)
Atomic Robo is a sentient robot built by Nikola Tesla. He’s pretty smart, but he’s also surrounded himself with some of the smartest people in the world to form a tech R&D and manufacturing company. Various stories have jumped around in time and dealt with mad dinosaur scientists, wormholes, vampires, all sorts of good things — all with great deadpan humor.
This story takes place in 1951. Robo is testing a new plane when he’s attacked by a bunch of small, boxy planes. He’s rescued by a group of women with jetpacks, and he discovers there’s a band of “ethical” female pilots hiding on an uncharted South Pacific island, who’ve tasked themselves with keeping leftover weapons out of the hands of the bad guys.
“Atomic Robo” has always had three things going for it, and they’re all here: 1. Outrageousness. As if being a sentient robot weren’t enough, one of his arch nemeses is Dr. Dinosaur, the aforementioned mad dinosaur scientist. 2. Smart dialogue. It’s what you’d get if Aaron Sorkin wrote comic books about sentient robots. 3. Fun. Despite being a robot, Robo has an unbridled lust for life and knowledge that inspires his employees — and his readers.
Pick up this book — and then get the TPB’s for the other six volumes. You won’t be sorry.