We’ve all been enjoying Dennis Hopeless week, haven’t we? That time once a month where two of his books come out on the same day? Well just in case that wasn’t enough, it looks like Hopeless has decided to add another date to our calendar: Mike Norton week. Not only is Norton involved in drawing Young Avengers, but he’s also the co-creator (with Hopeless) and artist for a new Dark Horse miniseries, The Answer. This week sees issue #1 come out.
Mike Norton week!
It’s a great comic! Sorry, I’m meant to hide that near the end of the review so you don’t stop reading. But we have your traffic now, so I guess it doesn’t matter. The idea here is that there is some kind of conspiracy going on which pits rationality and reasoning against chaos and disorder. And there’s a superhero called The Answer involved too, although he’s merely a trigger to push the plot along. The real core of this issue is the main character, Devin, an every-woman who is also a super-genius. Y’know, like Spider-Man! She doesn’t have superpowers though.
While the issue is very much about setting things up in order to break them in issues to come, there’s still some fun touches which make this stronger than the typical opening act of a story. For one thing, Hopeless’ dialogue takes characters who could come across as simplistic and turns them into multifaceted, fun people. Devin has flaws to her which fit naturally and push her away from being any kind of stereotypical lonely intellectual-type. Her internal narration (because, well, she IS a lonely intellectual, so she spends much of this issue by herself) is short and sharp, rolling out brief thoughts on top of each other at a quick rate. Crank! did the lettering for the issue, and the decision to take every thought and place it into a separate strip of narration gives her thoughts a pace to them which keeps things from feeling static. She’s a strong character to spend time with.
And the action sequences are also good fun, both because Hopeless has some new ideas in the way he serves up the sequences, and because Norton’s art is dynamic and fluid, creating a big and bold world which the characters race around in. For the most part, Norton’s storytelling is solid, and keeps things racing along as a solid pace. There is one moment where Devin is forced to jump for her life and the positioning is slightly wonky — which makes it look like she’s jumping forwards to her death rather than to her side, to the next building along. But that aside, the characters and well designed and the art is some of Norton’s best work to date.
He also manages to sneak in a familiar face to one of the scenes.
The narrative is concerned with setting things up, and does so reasonably well. The opening sequence is not the most unpredictable of moments, but is boosted by an actually very surprising moment which happens just before the end. The different subplots are smartly placed, as well, fitting together in a cohesive, interesting fashion. Everything feels very organic, flowing to form a complete world for the story to live within. The character of the Answer comes across as unusual, and the other mysterious characters are get interesting introductions. There’s also some fun visual tricks as the story goes along — I particularly like a sequence where Devin clicking her mouse acts as a ticking clock counting down to a thread she’s unaware is coming for her.
So, great comic! There are well-developed twists and characters, while both Hopeless’ dialogue and Norton’s art are quirky and fun. I’m looking forward to issue #2.
The Answer #1
Story: Dennis Hopeless and Mike Norton
Script: Dennis Hopeless Artist: Mike Norton
Colours: Mark Englert Letters: Crank!
Assistant Editor: Everett Patterson Editor: Patrick Thorpe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics