Review: Halcyon #1

Published on November 15th, 2010

Last week saw Image Comics publish the first issue in a brand new series from the minds of Marc Guggenheim, Tara Butters and artist Ryan Bodenheim. From it’s well designed, pristine front cover to it’s Frank Quietly-esque interiors, I’d say that Halycon #1 certainly looks the business. But for another superhero comic, does it offer anything more than the everyday good guy/bad guy story we see in most of our mainstream comics?

halyconcover

Yes, for the most part. Halcyon is a superhero comic (superteam comic, to be more precise) with a sprinkle of originality and a quirky sci-fi spark which should please anyone who is bored of reading their monthly copies of ‘Superman’ or ‘The Justice League of America’. Though this is not to say that Halcyon #1 is without it’s pitfalls, but let me first tell you what you were missing out on if you decided to give this comic a miss last Wednesday.

Halcyon are a superhero team like any other. They work within the public eye, and are presumably accepted worldwide for being awesome at what they do. They have an underwater headquaters, some of the team are aliens and they have supervillain enemies. Sounds like any old superhero team doesn’t it? But here’s the catch. Even though it is a team book, most of the comic is told from the individual member’s perspectives, with less emphasis on the team aspect until the very end, when quite frankly if they weren’t working as a team then they’d be screwed. I’ve got to take my hat off to artist Ryan Bodenheim for the good job of designing these characters as well, they each look amazing! It’s a stylised blend of all things cool in the field of science fiction.  One thing I will say though, and it surprised me a little seen as though it focused on most of the characters individually, was that there was close to no development on any member. We don’t know anything about them yet, aside from how get on and relate to each other. So hopefully we’ll get to know the team a bit better individually. Still, it’s only a first issue.

So now we’ve got our superteam, what’s the plot? I’ll tell you, and I think it’s a damn interesting story that challenges a superhero comic like nothing I’ve come across before, especially in the way it’s being told by Marc and Tara. It might have been done before somewhere else, and if so then I’m unaware of it. Halycon realise that their careers as superheroes might just have ended. How? In an overnight wash…crime, violence and war cease to occur across planet Earth. Has the world’s most wanted and deadliest supervillain, Oculus, finally got the upper hand on Halcyon, by surrendering himself over to the International Criminal Court? Oculus (who we also sadly no little about) said he’d been planning something big for months, and his surrender might just be the start of bringing Halycon down in an interesting, peaceful way. I’m sure things will take many twists in this series, but for an introduction to the plot, this was more than satisfactory and engaging.

The cool thing upon finishing the issue, was going back again and realising how obvious it was that crime and violence were decreasing in the weeks leading up to the day when Oculus handed himself over to the authorities. Jarhead, a supersolider fighting in Afganistan, found that his search for Osama Bin-Laden was futile because the terrorists had killed him and were about to hand over his corpse. This was a very powerful scene, as I didn’t expect something quite so topical to have been handled in this way, but I liked it.

Aside from being a little too fast-paced and lacking in character development, this comic was enjoyable for it’s insanely cool looking line-up of characters and unique plot. I personally want to stick around for another issue or two just to see where it goes, but if the lack of character development continues along this rather miserable path, then I’ll have to reconsider where I’m spending my money.

If you’re a fan of good art though, and an original story then this could be a series you’ll want to check out. It reminded me of Frank Quietly’s amazing art on ‘All-Star Superman‘, and it maintained the similar sci-fi feel that Quietly bought to that series as well. Give it a read, and see if you like it. I’d say it’s worth the $2.99 price tag for a first issue. What harm can be done in buying this?

Rob Andrews
Rob@ComicImpact.com