Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Alone
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciled by: Dan Jurgens
Inked by: Klaus Janson
Colored by: Raul Trevino
Lettered by: VC’s Dave Sharpe
Editor: Warren Simone
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Max Comics
I just have to mention two things about this issue right off the bat. One, I think the logos created for this and the Nighthawk mini just absolutely suck. I know that’s not all that important, but I just had to come clean about it. Two, Hyperion does not speak at all in this issue. In fact, he only appears on roughly one sixth of the pages. For those of you whose goat is really gotten by this sort of thing, you have been warned. Please adjust your reading/buying habits accordingly. I
t’s an odd choice for the first issue of a mini-series named after the character in question, and I get that many might be put off by it. For me that fact, in and of itself, is not enough to give me the book a thumbs down. So how does the rest of it fare?
Perhaps having learned from the mistakes of the Doctor Spectrum mini-series, this mini (likewise the Nighthawk one) is set up to move events forward. In Doctor Spectrum, all six issues of the series were set in between two to three issues of the parent book and the parent book itself was already about nine issues away from those events. This, however, is set firmly in the now of the Supreme Power series. We are being shown events that are occurring at either the same time, or, more likely, just after the most recent issue of Supreme Power. This allows the plot to provide actual consequences for the parent book to build off of as well as making it easier to avoid the stagnation that ground its predecessor miniseries to a disinteresting halt.
The plot, which keeps Hyperion largely off camera, involves the governments recruitment of “gifted” individuals to “eliminate the ambiguity” when it comes to the issue of Hyperion. To this end, the General has brought in Dr. Emil Burbank (a Lex Luthor analogue), Arcanna (Zatanna), Nuke (Firestorm), and the Shape (a sort of brain dead overweight Plastic Man or Elongated Man). Most of the issue focuses on Burbank’s rather unsavory “origins”. It’s an interesting update of the character (I especially like the bit about his parents’ fate since it mirrors The Unauthorized Biograpy of Lex Luthor) but it removes any sort of ambiguity from a future Burbank/Hyperion clash. Then again, the original battlesuit wearing incarnation of Burbank was not all that ambiguous either.
Jurgens’ normally clean style gets a needed roughing-up from the awesome Janson here. The effect is usually strong, but the depth of the inking varies between pages. I wish there was more consistency with how “Janson” (yes, it is now an adjective) they decided to make the art be.
The “costumes” (such as they are) are fairly generic, which is another disappointment. I know that the whole series has been dedicated to the idea of less flamboyance when it comes to the characters’ gear, but Frank has still managed to produce some interesting designs, whether it be with Hyperion’s red, white, and blue or Kingsley’s flesh. Here, all we get our shades of black, basically, and the effect is a bit flat.