When I read the first issue of The Weatherman written by Jody LeHeup with art by Nathan Fox, I was thrilled. Here was a fast paced, violent, humor-tinged space opera with ragged yet fluid art. But with every passing issue it felt like the central conceit in #1 was slipping away. Unfortunately, The Weatherman’s problems are clearest in trade paperback form.
At first, Nathan Bright takes the role as main character. In a world where Mars has been colonized and a terrorist attack left billions of women and children dead, the universe needs the endlessly optimistic and eccentric Mr. Bright. But then a secret agent captures him and accuses him of being the genocidal terrorist. This sparks off a chain of events where a bevy of characters gun for control over the confused asset.
Therein lies the problem: there are too many side characters. That may sound like a nitpick, but it’s a serious problem when it infringes on Nathan Bright’s character development. When we first meet him, he’s a jovial guy who could very well be dusting his Brutal Noodles with cocaine. But then bloodthirsty assassins and agents start to do unimaginably horrible things to him. How does he change because of this? Other than crying a bit, not a ton. He spends so much time as an item to be rescued, we feel detached for the most part. If you define a main character as the driving force in the narrative…Bright ain’t it.
So if Nathan isn’t really our main character, who is? The next logical choice would be Agent Cross, who finds and first captures Nathan. She has the makings of an even better protagonist. She has a traumatic backstory, a strong personality, and she starts off hating Nathan’s guts. Alas, she doesn’t have enough time to grow a bond or develop much of a complex relationship with Nathan because he’s always being comically carted away by others.
The pacing and plotting is equally obtrusive. Several issues are almost entirely spent on introducing side characters who barely interact with the main characters, if at all. These decisions mark this series as tragically self-indulgent and unwieldy.
What about the art? Well, Nathan Fox’s art is aggressively cartoony. On one hand, I love how sketchy and kinetic his work lends itself to the sci-fi world. Yet, his panels can become almost indecipherable and include too much visual noise. But I have to admit its impressive how much detail he can convey through his scribbles. Although a lot of credit has to go to Dave Stewart, the colorist, for helping define the wild line-work.
There’s a lot of imagination that went into this original sci-fi extravaganza. If you’re looking for a plot, action, and exposition heavy comic, you’ll love this. But The Weatherman falters in the finer points of storytelling.
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