Johns & Frank Aim for 'Surprising and New' in Latest "Batman: Earth One" Volume
Every day this month I’ll be reviewing a different independent comic book, based on submissions from the creators of the comic books themselves.
The month continues with the compelling first issue of a new series, First Law of Mad Science, by writers Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz, artist Daniel Lapham, and grayscale artist Jeff McComsey (with a cover by Jamie Noguchi).
I’ve written in the past of the difficulty in creating the first issue of a comic book series when you want to spend your first issue setting up the plot and establishing your characters for the crazy stuff that will happen in the later issues. It is a very tricky task to make loads of exposition feel both natural and, much more importantly, INTERESTING.
Isenberg and Mertz do a tremendous job of delivering on both aspects of that task in this first issue.
They introduce us to a family that could only appear in comic books. A Reed Richards-esque father, an Indiana Jones-esque mother, a robot 16-year-old “daughter” and a comparatively normal 13-year-old son (who is obviously not TOTALLY normal, since he grew up in this family).
First off, the initial page of the comic is quite intriguing…
Some super-powered fellow creating Stonehendge? That’s some trippy stuff right there, but also, as I noted, intriguing stuff, as well.
Then we go into the introduction of our cast of characters. Isenberg and Mertz picked a strong delivery system for all the necessary exposition….
R.A.I.C.H.E.L. and Hank are the stand-out characters of the comic, as we can see the downside of growing up with parents who are more driven by their own sense of discovery than their own kids (but we also see the bonding that comes from that – and, let’s face it, R.A.I.C.H.E.L. just has a fun personality period)…
Very natural dialogue.
So anyways, the hook of the first issue is that one of the earliest test subjects for Cyber-Eyes is seemingly murdered, but no one can see what did it. Hank, meanwhile, believes he has created life during an experiment, as some Lovecraftian-like small green creatures started appearing after the experiment. His father soon discovers, though, that the creatures are actually tied with the Cyber-Eyes. X days after your Cyber-Eyes are installed, you begin to see these creatures. They have driven all the original batch of paid test subjects insane or to suicide (the results were missed because these subjects do all sorts of different experiments, as well).
So now George Baker has to deal with the fact that he, and 40% of the population have had Cyber-Eyes installed, and it will only be a matter of time until they ALL get exposed to these creatures. Meanwhile, Emma is excavating a strange project that looks like an alien underground race. So as we end the first issue, the clock is ticking for ALL of the cast.
This was an exemplary first issue. It was good enough to stand on its own, but it also served to establish the drama of the series perfectly.
Lapham tells the story well, especially the facial expressions (particularly notable when one of your main characters is a robot). The dialogue was fresh and natural.
I’d definitely recommend this series (great title, too). Check out their home page here, where you can buy the first issue (either download it or buy a print copy). There are more preview pages there, as well!
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