Thursday, April 12, 2012

America's Got Powers #1

Written by Jonathan Ross
Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, and Paul Neary

The first issue of this six issue mini-series is probably the biggest debut of the week, and with the names attached to it, that comes as no surprise.  Jonathan Ross is famous for being on TV in England and wrote the very good comic Turf, and Bryan Hitch has become comic's go-to guy for widescreen, blockbuster series, like his work on The Authority and The Ultimates.

This series is an interesting pastiche of a variety of influences.  The most obvious one is contest shows like America's Got Talent and the Idol series.  There are also some very strong similarities to JMS's Rising Stars, Warren Ellis's aborted Newuniversal and his awesome Freakangels, as well as The Hunger Games.

In this series, the sudden arrival of an artifact in San Francisco seventeen years ago causes every pregnant woman in the Bay Area to suddenly give birth to a perfectly healthy child, who develops powers and abilities.  Somewhere along the way, these kids rioted, got put into camps, and then became the stars of the title TV show, which gives these teens the chance to compete for a spot on America's only superpowered team of heroes (why they want this, and what this team does is not established).  As you can imagine, this is a huge deal for a while, but like the Survivor series, attrition sets in, and eventually people stop watching.  Until someone gets hurt, and that gives the show's backers (who apparently include government officials) the idea of making things more violent and raising the stakes.

Our point of view character in this series is Tommy Watts, the only child born that day without abilities.  He has been given a menial job at the stadium where the competitions take place, and through the hubris of the show's new management team, is also given the chance to test his own heroism when the contest goes horribly wrong.

Ross has definitely toned down the exposition when compared to his work on Turf (which could be very dense in places), and paces the story nicely.  I like the way he establishes his backstory slowly, without tossing it at us in a page or two.  Hitch's work is definitely Hitch's work.  His signature widescreen layouts are used to full effect, and his usual ability to establish unique characters is used well.  Personally, I'm sick to death of his costume designs, but that's neither here nor there.

I'm definitely sticking with this series throughout.  I got to like Tommy, who has a habit of blowing off authority and responsibility, and I'm curious to see what Ross is going to do to differentiate this series from the myriad influences listed above.

No comments: