Doctor Spectrum #1 Review

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Full Spectrum

Written by: Sara “Samm” Barnes
Penciled by: Travel Foreman
Inked by: John Dell
Colored by: Studio F
Lettered by: VC’s Rus Wooton
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Max Comics

I read this book with a touch of trepidation. I know me, and I know nothing kills my interest in a book quicker than excessive spin offs of the main title. Besides which, how do you tell the further adventures of Doctor Spectrum when we has yet to really have his initial adventures?

It turns out, you don’t. Instead, you tell the story of Joe Ledger, that unfortunate guy with the jewel stuck in his hand. And you don’t tell his further adventures either. You instead focus on one specific moment in time, his comatose post-jewel merging moment that took place all the way back in the infancy of parent title Supreme Power. We know what happened to the world around him, but was happening to the world in him?

Smart idea there, but it only works if the life story you are telling is compelling enough to hold the reader’s interest. In this case, it is something of a split decision. The jewel induced flashback reveals Mr. Ledger to be rather average… fella (I will not use the pun!). In other words, he has some good luck, he has some bad luck. In the final account, his life seems a bit empty.

For me, that works. I like the idea that Joe was really nothing special until he encountered the crystal that would take up residence in his body. For others, the life flashbacks may be so average that they ring out as cliches. I can see that, but I am tabling judgment on such matters for the time being. If his stepfather (or mom’s boyfriend) takes a hand to him next issue though, I might just jump onto the cliche side of the line.

The pacing might also be problematic for some, as this is literally being fit in between ticks on a clock. I happen to like slow building stories, so that did not perplex me at all. However, if you go in looking for spectacular action set pieces, you will leave disappointed.

Travel Foreman’s pencils and John Dell’s inks (great to see him inking a book again) fit the tone nicely. They are down to earth and fitting to the beats of the story (the slightly ethereal, overly saturated look for childhood, the grimness of battle, the emptiness “inside”; the crystal). There is not much superhero-ing to be had this issue, but it seems clear from this debut issue that the art team can certainly handle it.