Friday, October 5, 2012

Non-Humans #1

Written by Glen Brunswick
Art by Whilce Portacio

Often in comics, great ideas lack the execution or follow through that would allow them to become great comics.  I was unsure about picking up Non-Humans, the new series (mini-series?) by Glen Brunswick and Whilce Portacio.  I'm disappointed to say that this is an example of that type of idea.

Brunswick caught my eye with his series Killing Girl, which also didn't live up to its potential (but the blame for that lies in the shift in artists half-way into the project).  Portacio is an artist that I've both liked and disliked over the years.  He was a cool alternative to artists like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld back in the pre-Image days, but at other times, I've found his storytelling difficult to follow, and his art very unclear.

I think Portacio is the biggest problem with Non-Humans.  The central idea is very interesting.  NASA space probes have brought a strange disease back to Earth that causes inanimate objects to come to life.  Somehow, this birthing is caused by a person who is carrying the disease, which is most active in adolescents.  That means that it is most frequently toys that gain life.

The implications of this are wide-spread.  Everyone between the ages of 13 and 18 are forced to take medication to deaden their creative impulses, leaving the world full of addicts who have to continue buying the pills on the black market once they hit the age of 19.  It also means that toys and other things that spark imagination, such as the Internet and television, have been banned.

The living Non-Humans are conferred some basic rights, assuming they have the appropriate paperwork, but they are discriminated against, and live in ghettos.  One Non-Human, Humphrey, a former ventriloquist's doll, has made a name for himself as a serial killer and assassin for hire.

Our hero in this series is Detective Aimes, your typical overworked brilliant detective, who comes complete with a failed marriage and a difficult relationship with his son Todd.  Todd has been dating a Victoria Secrets mannequin, and they want to start a family, so he's stopped taking his medication.  Aimes has to manage this issue, hunt for Humphrey, answer to his bosses, and break in a new partner.

That part of the story is pretty standard stuff, but Brunswick makes the characters interesting.  The problem for me is mostly visual.  Many of these Non-Humans are impossible to understand.  Action figures, mannequins, stuffed animals all make sense, but there are some truly horrific, human-sized things wandering around in this future world, and I don't understand what they are supposed to be, or why anyone would have made them.  There is a Non-Human detective, named Medic, and he looks like a robot.  Were he a crash-test dummy, it would make sense, but this doesn't.

And, as is usual with a Whilce Portacio comic, there are sequences I just can't decipher.  I wish this comic had a stronger artist, and had been workshopped a little further, because it's an interesting read.  At this point, I'm not sure if I'll be getting the next issue or not.

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