Overview

Twilight Experiment #1

Review

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Twilight Experiment #1

Credits

  • Words: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
  • Art: Juan Santacruz
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: Jose Luis Roger
  • Story Title: Inherit the World
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Feb 2, 2005

Regular co-creators Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti tell a tale centering on the aftermath of superheroes , but the story doesn’t grab the reader the way it ought to.

The premise of Twilight Experiment is promising. A scientist created some superheroes to defend the world from a coming menace, but they ended up fighting and destroying each other before the menace ever got there. Now the only possible hope for our future is the child of one of these heroes, who has been hidden away on a space station until his 18th birthday.

The real problem with the comic is that you would never know from the first issue that this is where the story is going. Twilight Experiment opens with a young girl’s recollection of the cataclysmic battle, shows us the boy Michael on the space station and then spends the rest of the issue hinting that it is going to reveal some of the premise in future issues.

Gray and Palmiotti are no strangers to writing good comics, so it’s a little baffling that the structure of their latest work is so fragmented and uneven . In 22 pages, we continually jump back and forth in an eight-year period with a chronology that is confusing, to say the least. It took me a second read, paying extra attention to the legends indicating the timeframe in order to put the series of events in the proper order. Playing with the order of events is a time-honored narrative device, but it needs a purpose and a payoff, which this first issue seems to be lacking.

The actual writing of the book has a nice maturity to it, however. Some quality time is spent reflecting on the consequences of super-heroic battles as it affects the people down below. Michael’s coming-to-terms with his mother’s sacrifice is likewise a well-written moment that is matched by powerful images. Yet the book as a whole feels stiff and wooden .

Juan Santacruz’s artwork is largely quite good. The first few pages of the book, in particular, are dramatic and moving, though it’s unclear if they are intentionally evocative of September 11. His characters are expressive and his sense of drama is unmistakable. Design-wise, though, this book really needed something a little more amped-up than what it got. The fleeting glimpses we are shown of the heroes are of a very standard garden-variety superhero type. Capes, tights and color-coordinated boots are the order of the day, with not much imagination to speak of . A book that promises a compelling story needs something iconic for its visuals, especially when the stands are so full of the aforementioned capes and tights.

The color palette for the book is also a little flat. Every page is predominantly either a light yellow or a light blue. In some cases, whole pages are almost monochromatic. It’s an interesting choice, given that these also appear to be the colors associated with the two final heroes whose chaotic final battle is the cause of all of this. However, it does not match the emotional intensity of the words on the page, and that’s a problem.

Twilight Experiment has a lot of potential, but much of that potential is not realized in the oh-so-critical first issue of a series. A first issue should sizzle from start to finish, in story, in artwork and emotional experience. In this case, the start is just a little uneven. The premise is good, but the story needs some focus and some grounding in its main characters if it’s ever going to do anything heroic.

-Jesse Vigil

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