Jonathan Hickman, (Writer) Kenneth Rocafort, (Art) Dave McCaig, and Nathan Fairbairn (Colors)
I had pretty high expectations for The Core from the moment it was announced as part of the 2008 Pilot Season lineup. Now, after reading it, I realize that I may have set my expectations a bit too high. While there is nothing actually bad about the last Pilot Season entry, it feels a bit too dense for its own good. I realize that complexity is a part of what makes Jonathan Hickman’s writing so appealing, but it truly is a double-edged sword in this case. Considering the nature of the Pilot Season (6 books debut, 2 books continue), I found it rather difficult to become invested in such an incredibly complex world knowing that it may never come to be fully realized.
Underneath all the exposition and heavy science fiction, the story is rather simple. A human being passes the trials necessary to become a member of an elite intergalactic tactics/battle unit and finds himself smack in the middle of a chaotic rescue mission. It is a tired and true framework, but Jonathan Hickman elevates it into something more memorable thanks to an interesting mix of high-concept political intrigue and not-so-subtle social commentary. The characters are unique, the concept has a lot of potential, and the ending left me wanting more. There really isn’t anything negative that I can say about the book, but I question whether it is worth the effort necessary to scratch past the surface when the series could be dead within a month.
Visually, The Core is a winner (most of the time). Kenneth Rocafort and his colorists do a fantastic job of bringing Hickman’s world to life, but seem to struggle when the action starts up. There is a strange dip in visual clarity during the action scenes and the battle flow just feels extremely disjointed. Thankfully, the action is kept to a minimum, so it’s a minor issue. One other thing I would like to mention is how incredible Rocafort’s character designs are. Part of me hopes this series continues just so I can see what other types of alien races are part of the world.
The Pilot Season leaves me with quite conundrum. Without a doubt, Urban Myths scores one of my votes, but I can’t quite decide which book will get the other. Genius scores big points because of an incredibly unique premise and a solid storytelling foundation. The Core scores well because I know that Hickman is a capable writer and I really enjoy the visuals/character designs. I’ll make up my mind one of these days, but, in the meantime… (Grade: B)