Joe Casey is revitalizing superhero comics, or that’s what you’d think if you read my review of Catalyst Comix #2. So how’s #3? Is it good?
Catalyst Comix #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
Check out our review of Catalyst Comix #2 here!
If you’re just joining us, this comic has three stories taking place. One longer story tells the tale of Frank Wells, a Superman-like hero, who’s pretty depressed. He doesn’t get any recognition for his saving the planet because the government isn’t sure they should know. He recently met a guru type hero and they are on a quest. The second story is about Amazing Grace, who is a deep space adventurer and was retrieved from a deep space mission and brought something back with her. She’s just woken from her coma and wants to kick some ass. Finally, the Agents of Change are being brought together as a government-run superhero team with Warhammer headlining their efforts. He’s got a bunch of guns and missiles all over his body.
The Frank Wells portion of this issue is incredibly compelling because it deals with superheroes in a very adult way. In fact, it does something Superman Unchained #3 tried to deal with last month. In that series, General Lane told Superman he didn’t take out dictators because he wanted the instant gratification and praise you can only get from fixing small problems. Similarly, Frank Wells is being brought on a journey to see how he can truly save the world. Considering the government is keeping his saving the world hush hush I don’t think they’ll like this new direction very much. It all amounts to a revitalization of the hero in modern comics.
Amazing Grace, which has a bit more of a science fiction tilt, doesn’t do as much to revitalize anything so much as introduce a compelling villain. This hero fights with fists, but also her mind; she’s a space hero after all. Not much takes place here though to warrant a “must read” sort of situation. It’s more of a transition piece that is setting things up for the next issue.
The third story is proof shorts shouldn’t be cutting between multiple characters in multiple locations. The story intercuts Warhammer taking on an assassin while the leader of the group talks to a hero who had a TV show. Because there’s only six pages to go between these two sequences, something is lost. The action almost seems like fluff to fill the pages with some required action. That might be because writer Joe Casey has some interesting bits of dialogue in the other sequence, but it all reads like he’s being forced to touch base with the many characters in this storyline. When they eventually get the center stage in a future issue I’m sure it’ll balance out better when they’re all not in one location, but it stifles the pace of this story.
After saying all that, the art by all three artists and their respective stories is solid. Dan McDaid’s work on the Frank Wells story reminds me of the science adventurer type tales and does well to expand Wells’ mind. Paul Maybury has a funky style that makes all the weirdness in the Amazing Grace storyline somehow feel real. The final story drawn by Ulises Farinas is probably the most similar to superhero comics today and reminds me of Frank Quitely. The color makes it pop nicely in his story in particular, but Brad Simpson’s coloring in all the stories does well to separate the different styles but at the same time brings them together.
- Main story progresses nicely
- All the art works for their respective stories
- Complementing stories don’t progress much at all
I suspect the structure of this comic will make it difficult for it to hit a home run every month. Stories must ebb and flow, and when you’ve got three of them going at once, there’s no telling if they’ll balance between each other every time. That said, the overarching goal of the series is becoming clearer every issue with some tantalizing concepts at play. Stay tuned.
Is It Good?
Yes, but just barely. Considering how good the last issue came together this one leaves a lot to be desired.
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