And this marks the last new Vertigo series for October, Art Ops from writer Shaun Simon (The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) and artist Mike Allred (Silver Surfer). With a creative team like that, surely they got something special up their sleeves with this first issue. Is it good?
Art Ops #1 (Vertigo Comics)
What happens when art is in trouble, victimized, or even starts causing problems? That’s where the Art Ops group comes into play, a secret organization that is dedicated to protecting artwork and even the public from the dangerous forces of the artwork world. Our story focuses on the son of one of the best agents for the group, Reggie Jones, as we see essentially his secret origin story about what his life was like before and after his encounter with a vile and dangerous graffiti monster.
The thing about Art Ops #1 is that it is a pretty fun and intriguing concept—a secret organization dedicated to protecting real, living artwork from forces that want to hurt it or protect people from this living art as well? It’s strangely reminiscent of the Men in Black in some ways and the small amount of activity we see from the Ops is quite interesting to see in action. It really leaves you wanting to see more of this group’s duties and what kind of situations they get themselves into (of the comics getting adapted into other mediums nowadays, this seems like it would be prime material to become a TV show).
The comic is also boosted by a quirky and unique cast of characters and terrific looking artwork. From the way the first issue ends, it seems like our regular cast of characters will be a guy with living paint for an arm that has almost a superhero origin, someone with unusual powers that looks like the Maker from New Avengers, and the real Mona Lisa that was taken out of her painting. It’s an unusual lineup, but one that seems like it has a lot of potential to it for character growth and fun interactions.
Don’t worry, these people got the finest paint Home Depot has to offer. You’ll be fine!
Allred’s artwork looks great here from start to finish. He does a great job the line work and constructing the layouts and panels. The characters are all drawn nicely and are pretty expressive (though a couple of smiles look a little off). The detailing is pretty good and some of the imagery is nice, like how Mike depicts the colorful and lively art arm. Laura Allred’s colors really make the images pop and look rather vibrant with the bright color choices she makes. This is a perfect art team to have on a book like this and I’m curious to see how they’ll do in future issues.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Art Ops’ first issue is that it’s just primarily setup. There’s not much going on other than just introducing the organization and the characters. We barely get to see what Art Ops does or get a good picture of what they do before everyone is just abruptly kidnapped/whisked away, so we’re just left to speculate and not really get the full scope of this organization anytime soon. Then there’s also the fact the comic focuses on telling a superhero origin story for Reggie that feels so hollow and lackluster. It has some unique elements in the graffiti monster and art arm, but the tale is mostly comprised of several tropes we’ve seen all before and terrible narration and exposition that sounds so forced and stilted. It’s good that comic didn’t stretch this origin out for long, but it feels so rushed and any emotional impact or punch it has falls short since we barely know the characters.
Time for your daily dose of exposition kids!
Is It Good?
Art Ops #1 is a comic with potential with a fun premise and unique set of characters. However, the lack of excitement in the comic and everything just being complete setup with little else happening keeps the comic from being a big hit right out of the starting gate. Hopefully things improve because this is one comic that can really soar with how wildly creative it could get.
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