FX #1


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FX #1


  • Words: Wayne Osborne
  • Art: John Byrne
  • Inks: John Byrne
  • Colors: Greg Cordier
  • Story Title: Monkey Business!
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Mar 19, 2008

“FX...Vs. the Savage Silverback!”

Jagged black letters, outlined in red, shout this electrifying statement on the cover of the first issue to the new IDW book, FX.  Though the more accurate testimonial would be:

“Fans... Vs. the Savage Throwback!”

It all comes down to how much you love your old-school comics.  This one is old-school through and through and through and through and through.  Still hankering for Byrne pages that seem shorn from the pages of Alpha Flight or Next Men?  Were you in total and complete love with Stan Lee Presents… the DC series of one-shots that allowed the Distinguished Competition’s major mainstays to be reinterpreted by Marvel’s Silver Age wordsmith of wonderment?  Is there nothing more thrilling than to read a script and action-adventure serial that seems literally a lost-and-found gem from halcyon days of spandex yore?

The argument against FX is thus: we’re obsessed with nostalgia, smothered in our own childhood loves, dismissing all progressive creative venues for the chance to never, ever leave our pasts behind.  Even the stories we hail as groundbreaking, today, tend to be oddball pairings of classic genre tropes, until ingenuity is reinterpreted to be how cleverly we homage, how far we transform what’s long been exhausted, how overloaded in established styles we can weigh a concept down without slowing it down.  There’s little out there these days that aren’t gluttonous rolls in our own fictional precedents.  FX is the latest, though arguably, the purest.

FX is the story of a kid who gains a superpower, specifically the power to make real anything he pretends, hence making him a living special effect.  The power is given to him by seeming chance, an inexplicable event whose explanation is entirely beside the point, the point being that the kid’s got powers, and now he gets to use them and abuse them and over time learn from said usage and abusage.  What better place to start then by facing down a giant-sized semi-intelligent gorilla?

What indeed: FX is sheer fun, no mistake.  It’s not the smoothest read, as writer Wayne Osborne, a neophyte creator, is hard pressed to hide his inelegance, though to a large extent, this lack of polish enhances the story’s sought-after old-school effect.  The dialogue of FX is wonderfully unselfconscious and cheesy as stuffed-crust pizza with extra cheese.  The play of character and the use of the protagonist’s broad range of power possibility are never dull, though equally never dense.  There’s nothing intricate here, as Osborne firmly believes he’s writing the first Impact! book since 1993 and, ultimately, he more or less has.

Then there’s John Byrne.  Nothing new here, just classic, Byrne-style layouts and  postures and expressions and action—it’s even accompanied by John Workman letters!  The book was crafted “Marvel” style, the plot given to Byrne, which he then penciled, the pencils Osborne then scripted, which Workman then lettered, which Byrne then inked, so the final product is as authentic an anti-modern article as it comes.  Osborne manages a few attention-grabbing moments beyond the light and fluffy fluff, especially the intriguing hook on the last page, a moment that’s sincerely gripping and hints toward a larger story.  But beyond these momentary modern flourishes, FX #1 is likely to be the most anti-contemporary guerilla gorilla mag to hit stands this year.

No other book manages so completely to be the product it strives to homage.  Even Amazing Spider-Girl tends to play with its chosen era of inspiration more so than it austerely is that era.  But FX is not a clever play on the past, or a commingling, or a Golden Age book written with a modern sensibility.  Somehow, Osborne and Byrne simply don’t know any better, and so they write a book that doesn’t belong, not to today, though comic readers being who we are, that’s a damn dirty lie.  FX is for us, or a part of us, arguably a creatively stifling, childish, selfish part.

FX #1 doesn’t blend the old with the new as most classic pulp or Golden Age era riffs these days, but it offers us only the former and not a single thing else.  Does that make it good?  I liked it.  I’d like there to be a lot less books of its ilk it in existence, but I can’t help but like it anyway.  So it’s a good version of an unhealthy trend, and definitely the one most unpolluted by anything resembling progress.

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