So I didn’t have the best first impression of POP, but that’s alright. Maybe it just needed an issue to get going and it’ll truly take off once introductions are out of the way. In that line of thinking, let’s give the second issue a look and see if it improved. Is it good?
POP #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
The Cartel is on the hunt for Elle after she escaped, sending out two of their strangest killer retrieval agents, while the main boss tries to figure out who let Elle out of her cloning bubble thing. Meanwhile, Coop tries to help Elle recover her memories the only way he knows how… drugs!
Thank you, POP. This page added so much to the experience.
You know how I said that I felt that the first issue was unimpressive and underwhelming? Yep, same thing here; it’s just not that good. Like last time, this comic barely makes any use of its concept or potential: people growing and making clones to become pop stars for corporations. Sure, we get to see the business that wants Elle for them (all depicted as big extremely fat, lazy, people. So clever, this writer), but again, that’s it. There’s no real commentary, nuance, or thought put into this concept outside of generic, clichéd ideas that we’ve seen or heard before and seen executed much better.
The story is nothing to write home about. It’s still a generic on-the-run-from-an-evil-organization type tale, with no special twists or turns. The story often wanders around and feels directionless most of the time, and the story ostensibly has no idea where its end destination lies. There are a bunch of pointless or poorly handled scenes as well that just make you shake your head. Here’s what I mean:
in the big scene where the hit men/retrievers catch up to Elle and Coop, they want to kill him and the guy retriever is complaining that he hasn’t gotten to kill anyone in a while. When all seems lost, a police officer shows up after someone they had beat up for information earlier has come in. The hit man kills the cop and the two main characters escape in the confusion. Now you may be wondering what the problem is here and it’s simple. If the hit guy was complaining so much about wanting to kill someone… why didn’t he kill the person he was beating up earlier and leave a witness? He could have saved him the hassle of the cop intervening and allowing the characters to escape by killing that guy. This whole thing ends up just feeling like an artificial way to allow the characters to escape and ends up feeling out of character for an, admittedly not very well characterized, person.
Oh come on. I’m not interested in your shadow puppet abilities lady.
While we’re discussing characterization, he characters still are not compelling or all that interesting. Coop has the most humanity out of everyone, but he’s still not that interesting or even all that fleshed out besides being the generic nice guy. Elle holds the most potential, but still does not feel fully explored or compelling at this point due to her amnesia. The villains aren’t interesting and are generic evil businessmen/businesswomen and the people tracking Coop & Elle feel like generic psycho quirky killers you might see in other series. There’s just no one to get invested in or really care about here.
Unfortunately, Curt Pires’ writing is still problematic as well. The dialogue and narration are forgettable most of the time, with some odd attempts where it sounds like the characters or story are trying to be profound, but failing at it. Speaking of which, the comic feels like it wants to say something smart about the music industry, but it’s just not clever enough to pull it off. The pacing is quick and the story just flies by a lot of the time, especially with decompression at work in some of the scenes. The attempts at humor either miss the mark completely or make you want to groan out loud at how painful it was (that coffee joke towards the end was so awful). The ending is okay, but like with the previous issue, it’s hard to care when the characters and story are just not working all that well.
There is a mild bright spot however, and it’s Jason Copland’s artwork. The characters look good and have a nice range of emotions from the look of them. The layouts are pretty decent and flow very well at points, providing the reader with an enjoyable experience. There’s some unique looking imagery in the book, especially during the token drug sequence, that’s interesting to look at. Now, there wasn’t anything as visually creative design-wise as in the previous issue (even if they were silly, they did stand out), but that’s a minor nitpick.
Donald? He looks more like an Urkel to me.
Is It Good?
POP #2 is pretty bad, continuing to drop the ball on the potential this series has. The writing feels weak, the characters aren’t engaging, and the story and themes are not well written or fully explored enough to be compelling. Besides the art, there is really nothing to recommend about this book and I cannot in good conscience recommend something this poorly thought out and written. Just stay away.