by JT Krul (writer), Alex Konat (pencils), Saleem Crawford & Jon Bolerjack (inks), John Starr (colors), and Josh Reed (letters)

The Story: An elite CIA squad of psychics does some counter-terrorist wetwork as we’re introduced to a whole new side of American security.

What’s Good: As far as first issues go, this is a solid outing.  The concept is cool, the world is cool, and the characters seem likable enough.

All this aside though, this issue lives on its depiction of its characters’ psychic powers, which Krul writes in spectacular fashion.  I never imagined psychic powers could be so damned slick.  Telepathy is brief, crisp battlefield communication.  Characters are able to see what their enemies see in a shoot-out in order to get the drop.  It’s fast, brutal, and generally awesome.  More importantly, these powers lend the comic a sort of visceral thrill that feels empowering in its breaking of sensory limits; the characters are ice-cold ESP experts, always three steps ahead of the competition.

For all the breakneck action and coolness delivered by these powers, Krul also shows diversity in his ability to slow things down through these same psychic abilities.  When used outside of a firefight or ambush, our characters’ powers create what feels almost like a sort of pathos.  One of our heroes, Connor, incidentally reads a rapist’s mind, leading to some really, really creepy and somewhat metaphorical imagery that was startling in its effectiveness.  Through this scene and others, Krul makes it clear that these characters are never free of their abilities; they’re far more than battlefield aids, as they continue to haunt long after the mission is over.

Artist Alex Konat very much mirror’s Krul’s performance, as his illustrations of these psychic powers in action are pretty astounding and quite often very creative.  Psychic visions take on a dreamy, painted quality that stands in instant contrast with the style of the rest of the book.  Konat’s neatest trick comes early in the book, however, when he fuses a “remote viewer’s” illustrations with their real world counterparts; a building, for example, will be half black and white sketch as a character, holding the drawing of it, walks up to it.  It’s a surreal representation of an internal thought process.

What’s Not So Good: Being a first issue, Mindfield #1 suffers from some natural setbacks.  The characters, for example, don’t feel particularly well-realized at this point and, in some instances, feel a little two-dimensional or archetypal.  I’m sure this will change soon enough, but right now, it’s a little obvious what narrative role each member of the team is meant to play.  This is especially the case with the team’s CIA handler(s).

Furthermore, the introduction of what seems to be the plot of the first storyarc, something or other surrounding a series of revolutionary podcasts, is fairly incomprehensible.  I think it’s because Krul was more focused on having us meet the world of Mindfield and its characters, so when it came to bringing in the actual plot, he ran short on pages.  The result is that stuff does happen related to this plot, but it doesn’t have the impact that Krul seems to have intended, mostly because we’re fairly mystified as to what any of it means, or why it’s important.

Krul is also walking a fine line with Connor’s narration, which is at times just on the verge of being overly dramatic or self-loathing.  He doesn’t quite go wrong this month, but it’s an uncomfortably close call on a couple of occasions.

Conclusion: Who knew psychics could be this cool, gritty, or slick?

Grade: B

-Alex Evans