by James Robinson (Writer), J. Bone (Artist)
The Story: Smoking too much weed can have unforeseen effects, such as dependency, a certain lack of ambition and being the prey of weird lizard monsters.
The Review: We live in an age of comics that is kind of revelatory. With a huge explosion of creator-owned comics, there is now a diversity that wasn’t the norm a good number of years back. Writers old and new arise, with people like Brian K. Vaughn and Jonathan Hickman being in on the game just like others like Kurtis J. Wiebe and Jim Zub, with each of them having a particular story or two to tell. For people looking for comics without any trace of capes or tights, it’s rather grand to see something develop so quickly.
It’s with these kind of thoughts that I approached The Saviors, a new creator-owned series by James Robinson and J. Bone. With Robinson being responsible for some beloved stuff like Starman and JSA: The Golden Age, I was rather curious to see how he would fare with this. Would it be on the same level as those classic, or would it fall in the same category as his Earth 2 run?
This issue shows a lot of potential, to be sure, as it offers a certain horror feeling with a certain ease that allows for a great mix between tension and comfort. With the stoner protagonist at the helm of this comic, Robinson provides for a nice template for development, even though Tomas Ramirez is perhaps a bit on the stereotypical side.
While the main character isn’t the most original, Robinson makes a good case of him being sympathetic enough, with a certain care-free and friendly disposition that allows readers to have a certain amount of attachment to him in but a few pages. With his situation clearly established and the setting nicely put, the story can get along very fine.
An aspect that is of a lesser quality is the uneven balance in terms of exposition and action, with the first few pages being rather heavy in terms of explanation. There’s a lot of information dump in the first half of this book, which does help in building up the setting in which the story will be told. Robinson does try to add levity and a good dose of characterization in the first few pages, but it does tend to get a bit irritating after a good while.
Thankfully, once the action and the plot hook is set, the issue starts to get a good lot more interesting, with an emphasis on action with a touch of horror that is certainly welcome. Right there, the potential of this simple story unfold and most of the exposition does serve a bit of purpose as the revelation of the issue stands out. However, while the story does begin to get interesting and exciting, there are still some problems in the presentation and with some choices being rather disappointing to say the least.*
Still, while the plot package isn’t the most even, the art of J. Bone is pretty fantastic here. While there is an absence of colors, the artist does make some rather visible effort to make this comic as alive as possible, resulting in an energetic, but also detail-filled issue. With plenty of pages and panels dedicated to fleshing out the town of Passburg and the nearing environment, J. Bone does help with clarifying the setting as well as the tone of the issue, with each backgrounds incorporating several elements to the general ambiance. In terms of scenery and backgrounds, J. Bones doesn’t disappoint.
The characters aren’t anything to slouch at either, with the style of J. Bones being used rather well here. While the straighter lines and the abundances of square shapes is something that might hold a few away from the book, the cartoonish style does add a certain charm to the characters in terms of emotions. Dealing with a certain minimal touch in terms of emotions, the artist is able to pinpoint just enough without giving way to hyperbole for the faces. A thing of note, though, would be the lizard creature itself, which look fantastic. The square and straight angles are used greatly for the design of the beast itself, which does amount to a ferocious and savage looking creature that looks good on paper.
The Conclusion: There may be a certain unbalance with exposition and action, but the excitement of this issue, combined with the characterization and the lovely art of J. Bones makes this first issue worth it despite its flaws. Recommended.
Hugo Robberts Larivière
*After women in refrigerators, we can now add ”garage handler who was also kind-of the best friend of the protagonist” in a refrigerator to the list.