Overview

Bizarre New World #1 (ADVANCE)

Review

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Bizarre New World #1 (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Skipper Martin
  • Art: Christopher Provencher
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: Wes Dzioba
  • Story Title: If This is a Dream, Do I Want to Wake Up?
  • Publisher: Ape Entertainment
  • Price: $3.50

Imagine if one day you could fly – nothing else, no supers, no spandex, no espionage, no genre anything, just you and the ability to soar. What would you do?

Paul is your everyday suburbanite, works for a living (albeit graveyard shifts), supports a son from a previous marriage, lives bachelor-hood in a small home, drives an inconspicuous car, is basically an all-around recognizable adult American male. But one night, while at work, he floats to the ceiling; no fanfare, no build-up, he just floats. Later at home he hurries to discover if it was a momentary hallucination or an ongoing event, and, yup – he can fly. This, especially for comic readers, is one of the sincerest dream-come-true scenarios which has forever been idyllically idled over. What would any of us do if with the ability to fly? What if it was just flight and nothing else (limits things, eh)? Here it is: one of the most fundamental genre speculations given a thorough, verisimilar treatment in a three-issue mini-series that looks to be essential reading for any soul who’s ever pondered the issue (which, let’s face it, would be everyone).

Bizarre New World is the absolute opposite of its title’s implication: it is in effect a charming, straight-forward look into a classic what if, so straight-forward and so charming – in this heyday of spot-the-influence deconstructionist oddities – that it can unreservedly be called an experimental masterpiece. Writer Skipper Martin plays it very smart and presents this inaugural chapter in a double-sized issue (nearly a triple – 50 pages of story!!!). The high page-count allows him to tell the story of Paul’s first experience with his power through admirably visceral ways, utilizing more than just boxes of text and representational splash-pages to evoke the protagonist’s chain of terror, wonder, curiosity, and (ultimately) mild obsession. Every action and reaction and small interaction from discovery to brainstorming to experimentation is provided. The reader then fully gets to witness every moment that Paul does; nothing is glossed over, and nothing is shrugged for the sake of pacing. Which is good, as the book, even as thick as it is, is a blisteringly fast read.

While it might at first glance seem to be the ultimate in decompressed storytelling, BNW takes that modernist, fleet and sparse structure and manages to do with it what the style may have always been meant to accomplish: the telling of a story in its smallest components, leaving very little to the imagination, but also bringing the reader on a fascinating, focused, and unforgettable journey. We’re with Paul from his very first float to his maiden open-air flight into a storm, and the results are only ever pretty for those reading it. If Martin has an overall message, it seems to be this: that super-powers in real life would be a lot like putting on a pair of ice skates: we may imagine ourselves pirouetting through the air, but for the longest time all we’re really doing is falling flat on our butts and blanching. The book is divided fairly between inquisitional dialogue (I wonder if…?) and the actual, physical trial-and-error attempts. Issue #1 is largely devoted to the first-contact moment and its immediate aftereffects, but by the end it looks as if issues 2 and 3 will be satisfactorily farther-reaching and exploratory.

Rounding out Martin’s superlative writing skills are pencils by newcomer extraordinaire Christopher Provencher, whose finesse with illustrating motion and expression are comparable to the best of the biz. His overall linework is a hybrid of Kirkman-cohorts, combining the rough grit of Tony Moore and the gawky litheness of Ryan Ottley. Being a comic, no matter how well-written the script, the entire product finds permanent ability to affect via its art, and thankfully Provencher proves exceptional in chronicling the mundane when meeting a fleck of the fantastic. Additionally, colorist Wes Dzioba provides some gorgeous final touches, allowing the book to appear miles over most mainstream fare. There are even some clever and well-rendered digital effects in a few choice moments, allowing Paul’s shift from commonplace to out-of-place to take on a startling visual immediacy.

All in all, Bizzare New World is a book you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve finished it. It’s quintessential food-for-thought for any genre-fiction connoisseur, and it’s marvelously rendered, both in story and art; it’s the complete small press package that only a few books a year ever manage to achieve. This one’s already got the buzz behind it, and frankly it deserves every bit of it. It’s a great read, plain and simple, though it doesn’t rest on that laurel alone, but rather puts out a final product superior on every level. Great concept, memorable character (and likeable), and exceptional execution – now that’s a comic!

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