Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Gods and Monsters
Written by: Brian Augustyn
Penciled by: Dub
Colored by: Pierre-Andre Dery
Lettered by: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Chris Stone
Publisher: Speakeasy Comics
Originally I had planned to pen a review for another title this week. As luck would have it, I was visiting a comic shop with a friend, and Beowulf #1 jumped out at me. It looked cool, and it was written by Brian Augustyn, so I gave it a shot. Quite often the most enjoyable things are those we don’t even know are coming.
Beowulf begins in 1916 during World War I in France. We are apprised of the situation as an American soldier recounts his position being overrun by German soldiers. When all appears lost, an unarmed American arrives to rout the Germans. The soldier exhibits amazing fighting skills, isn’t wounded by gunfire, and is struck by lighting. That’s quite an entrance. Our narrator was wounded during the fray and loses consciousness. He tells us that the soldier brought him and the other survivors to safety. The narrator continues by telling us how he spent time recuperating in the hospital, but never met his savior again. Someone did snap a picture of the mysterious man visiting the solider in the hospital, and our narrator recalls seeing the mystery, un-aged, several times throughout the course of his life, watching over him.
We jump forward to the present. The narrator is 104, and he’s recounting the tale on his death bed. The man soon passes away. After his demise his great-granddaughter goes back in the room to grab the picture, when she comes across our mystery man, as young as ever. He disappears before she can speak to him, though.
From this rather-interesting mystery our story moves to an encounter between a budding superhero named Powerhouse and a group of diamond thieves. The situation goes very badly for the hero as police arrive on the scene too. Brian Augustyn doesn’t make us wait very long for answers to the original mystery. The mysterious presence from the opening is working with the police. The man is known as Wulf. He joins up with a colleague to try and settle down the superhuman encounter raging nearby. Unfortunately for Powerhouse, he’s accidentally injured some police officers and unwittingly become involved in hostage taking. Wulf talks Powerhouse down from the precarious situation, until his work is ruined by mysterious individual working for Homeland Security.
Augustyn ties up the first story by revealing that Wulf is actually the Beowulf of legend. He has been waiting more than a millennium for an encroaching conflict. The superhuman community has seen some strange happenings of late, Beowulf seems to think this is it.
This is a nicely laid out debut. We are given a lot of information, but not too much. I felt pretty good about my knowledge at the end of the first issue. Quite a lot happens within these pages, but it’s clear this is only the beginning. The characters are introduced quite well, and there is plenty of action, but also ample bits of characterization.
Dub’s pencils are outstanding! We move from the realism of WWI to modern day New York City all the way to some superhuman mayhem on the streets. The layouts draw you from page-to-page without a problem. The characters have a stylized, cartoony look, but there’s also a sense of realism. The mix brings carries home the fact that something very big going on in the “real” world.
All told, this is an excellent introductory issue. I can’t believe how many truly-great comics have debuted in the past few months. This title had not been on my radar, but it will be a regular purchase as long as the quality continues at this level. The cover showing Beowulf ambling through Times Square hit me hard enough to pick the book up off the shelf. The inside made me a reader. All involved with this title should be applauded.