Comixology’s all-ages comic miniseries Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine is out this week from comic greats Scott Snyder and Jamal Igle. Mixing sci-fi and the magic of invention, Dudley Datson is a younger character who is relatable to teenagers across the country. It’s also a story about invention and how there’s a secret society running things you’ll definitely want to learn more about.
Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine #1 may be billed as an all-ages read by Scott Snyder–hear him talk about it in our interview–but it feels like adults would love this too. It opens with some history on great inventors who also had great pets. Cut to Dudley Datson naked in front of an audience, presumably showing off an invention but not yet pulling it off.
It’s a good introduction that draws you into a magical and unknown world of inventors. Soon, we’re introduced to Dudley and his father, who live normal lives in New York. The magical realism hasn’t yet kicked in, but your interest will. The character giving the narration is also a nice touch that makes the cliffhanger even more of a shocker.
Igle has an incredible talent for creating realistic-looking people through facial expressions, clothes, and character design in general. Save for the ink and colors that create these characters, they’re practically real. The dialogue, of course, helps flesh them out, and soon you’re right there with Dudley Datson, his dad, and his friend Ohno.
A lot of this first issue takes place in normal settings with normal-looking people. When cool inventions or a villain that is quite ominous and of the supervillain variety pops up, their fantastic presence feels even more intriguing. The world looks and acts realistically.
That supervillain remains a rather large mystery by the end of this issue. I will say, the threat at hand is rather vague and while Dudley does have to encounter them early on it’s hard to know the stakes of the story beyond Dudley being in danger.
Eventually, the story catches up to the smash-cut in the opening with Dudley Datson nearly naked, and things get more interesting. Some technology here is likely on the way in the real world, and the creators do well to capture Dudley’s joy and ingenuity.
Igle’s highly detailed art is colored by Chris Sotomayor, who realistically renders the world, although the colors do pop a bit. This feels like a comic book, not a harsh reality with a hopeful brightness. Inks by Juan Castro add extra oomph to Igle’s linework making the characters pop in particular.
Tom Napolitano letters the issue with good emphasis as needed. It’s clean and easy to read with word balloons and tails positioned well on them.
This is a story younger readers will connect with as Dudley desires to be respected and to accomplish his goals while helping others. Adults will enjoy the larger and secret world being uncovered in a mystery involving invention. If necessity is the mother of invention, then I deem it necessary to check out the inventiveness within Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine.
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