Carbon Grey #1


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Carbon Grey #1


  • Words: Hoang Nguyen, Khari Evans, Paul Gardner, and Mike Kennedy
  • Art: Khari Evans, Kinsun Loh, and Hoang Nguyen
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 2, 2011

I remember an acid trip back in the nineties, during which I watched Total Recall – you know, the Phillip K. Dick adaptation starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I didn’t have a clue what was going on in the movie and had to watch it again only to find out it wasn’t that complicated a story to begin with.

I came away from Carbon Grey #1 feeling the same way – only less Arnie and the acid trip. I have the sense that should I go back and reread it, I may come to the same conclusion I did upon re-viewing Total Recall – it’s likely not so confusing as it came off during the first reading. The thing is, I really don’t feel the need – or more properly, the desire.

Featuring some truly sumptuous digitally painted visuals from the art team, Carbon Grey’s greatest flaw is its weak storytelling. There’s a lot of spectacle here but no real substance. I’m still not sure where or when the story is supposed to take place or what the basis is of the prophecy/tradition of the "13 Greys" is. I’m sure it was supposed to feel appropriately mysterious and with heavy religious overtones but it only came off as vague, cumbersome, and more than a little irritating. I mean really – who are the bloody protagonists here? The Sisters Grey? All of them? Some of them? Or just the extra one?

Although the final page would seem to make this clear, it really doesn’t, featuring only three of the four sisters in the closing montage. By the end of the book, I wasn’t really sure which sister was which or if the fourth sister really existed.

This unnecessary confusion extends itself to the design of the book as well. While the artistic team renders the world of Carbon Grey and inhabitants in lush detail, the actual visual tone of the book, from settings to character designs, felt like slogging through a hodge-podge of mismatched period costumes, from every first-person RPG produced in the last five years. The end result was that reading this book felt less like an escape and more like work.

Bogged down by unfocused storytelling from the development stages on up to the final edit, Carbon Grey reads more like the plot synopsis of a popular shoot ‘em up video game than an actual comic book. With over-thought visuals and a plot and characters desperate for more care and consideration, Carbon Grey fails to truly establish itself in the imaginations of its audience.

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