Hybrid Bastards


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Hybrid Bastards


  • Words: Tom Pinchuk
  • Art: Kate Glasheen
  • Colors: Kate Glasheen
  • Price: $17.95
  • Release Date: Jul 13, 2010

Archaia’s Hybrid Bastards is a fusion of ancient Greek mythology with the modern concept of the American sitcom, something like Married… with Children. Zeus, for example, is no longer the strapping, divine silver daddy he once was a few thousand years ago, but is rather a deadbeat who lies around in a bathrobe pretending that his former glory is still intact. Hera, meanwhile, is an old, nagging, and emaciated housewife (not unlike the women of Sex and the City) who still hasn’t gotten over her husband’s womanizing tendencies. It’s been happening since the beginning of time, so let it go already.

I found this concept interesting, and I trusted that writer Tom Pinchuk would carry it through to a worthwhile conclusion. But the story’s entire premise falls apart almost as soon as it begins with Hera announcing that Zeus was placed under a spell for one evening by the suave and handsome Hypnos, the god of sleep who, in modern times, could double as the patron saint of Rohypnol. For a single night, Zeus didn’t have the faintest idea of what he was copulating with, and like the Santa Claus of Sex, the thunder god was able to make his way around the world for a lot of action before sunrise.

The end results are Zeus’ hybrid bastards, disenfranchised and freakish children. The roster is as follows: Walter, a living wall with a lot of fight in him; Carmine, some kind of living machine filled with empathy; Cotton, a creature that is either a humanoid lizard or mantis (I’m still unsure of which) who is one smart fellow; Corey, a strawberry or tomato (again, I’m unsure of which) who is the meek everyman trying to come to terms with his life; and Panos, the handsome and overly masculine leader of the bastards who has great affection for his Greek origins.

I admire writer Pinchuk’s imagination with his creations, but he doesn’t extend that same imagination to giving his creatures any relatable character traits. Each and every figure in the story is a cut-out template, conforming to a notion without any kind of deeper exploration or meaning. Everyone fills their roles as they should and they never deviate from their respective courses. We’re not even given a glimpse as to why these characters are as they are—we’re either expected to assume (in regards to the hybrids) or to know (in regards to the gods).

The main motive of the hybrids in life is to have revenge against their careless father. So, they lash out against him in through acts of property damage and theft. Some characters are killed, others are arrested, but everyone sticks to the script without offering anything of any real meaning. For such interesting looking monsters, they have incredibly boring and predicable personalities.

It’s apparent that Hybrid Bastards was intended to be a comedy, and yet I did little to no laughing. Every line that’s supposed to elicit a chuckle is as forced as a knock-knock joke torn from the pages of an amateur comedy book. This is always a great mistake, forcing humor instead of allowing it to roll naturally. Warren Ellis, who I enjoy for the most part, is guilty of this from time to time. Even Alan Moore, who I hold in the highest regard, tried to be funny far too much in some of his Tom Strong adventures. It always results in stilted dialogue that is awkward and tedious instead of witty and charming.

Make no mistake that Hybrid Bastards is a beautiful book to look at, both because of the illustrations and the coloring of artist Kate Glasheen. Her brief biography in the book states that she draws inspiration from wall graffiti, and it’s apparent. She works with hard lines and sharp edges, and her colors are as vibrant as some of the most breathtaking of city-sidewalk chalk murals. I was even reminded more than once of Lynn Varley’s work in Frank Miller’s 300.

But art is never enough to fully save a book—the story is what ultimately matters. Hybrid Bastards isn’t a bad comic, but it doesn’t leap off the pages the way a good one would. I wanted more from the characters and plot than the expected, but predictability was all that I received.

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