As comic stories continually decompress, the era of long reads is nigh. Or is it? It used to be it’d take 20 minutes to read one X-Men comic by Chris Claremont, but now it seems like it’d take six issues to reach his word count. Then Dark Horse Comics has the audacity to roll out a new superhero comic by Joe Casey with enough reading to be The Economist to shame. Last month, I was floored by how much content there was, but I wasn’t in love with the first issue. How does #2 read; is it good?
Catalyst Comix #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Check out our review of Catalyst Comix #1 if you missed it.
It makes a hell of a lot of sense to have Paul Pope draw the cover to this issue. Pope epitomizes the type of well thought out, interesting and razor’s edge storytelling that’s going on in this series. Writer Joe Casey is clearly having fun writing three stories about two heroes and the third about a team all in the same world. Broken up into three stories with one main and two shorter backups, the series will rotate the stories once the main one is completed. All three take place in the same world and will build on each other.
It’s simple enough to summarize the last issue, although it wouldn’t be doing it justice. Frank Wells has Superman-like powers and saved the world from whale-like aliens. Amazing Grace is a deep space adventurer and was retrieved from a deep space mission and fell into a coma. Finally, the Agents of Change are being brought together as a government run super hero team with Warhammer headlining their efforts. He’s got a bunch of guns and missiles all over his body.
With the first issue under my belt this series is starting to work wonders on my imagination. There was a lot to take in last month, with very little setup for the reader. It seems Casey expected us to do a little work on our end and figure it out as he weaves his story. It also helps this story touches a little more deeply on the human condition of our heroes.
This issue opens with Frank Wells dealing with the loneliness he’s feeling after saving the Earth. We quickly learn the government is keeping his involvement in saving the planet a secret, for the betterment of the people and because Frank Wells doesn’t have the best psychic profile. The concepts at work here are fascinating particularly because it’s so easy to see a government making these decisions if a Superman-like hero was real.
OMG! Dr. Strangelove reference!
To cap that off, a new character is introduced that has some interesting questions for Wells. It all boils down to an interesting take on a Superman like character and at times I was reminded of Mark Millar’s Supreme and how he too toyed with the concepts of Superman.
There is no fighting in the war room!
The first followup focuses on the bedside of Amazing Grace. Even out of action, Casey does an impeccable job showing how important this character is, but more importantly the horrors she may have brought to Earth. This section also toys around with a hero that has an opposite effect on society. Where Frank Wells is forgotten, Amazing Grace is a celebrity, complete with a Andy Warhol like painting of her as he did with Marilyn Monroe.
The final story opens on the Agents of Change, who are forced to sit through an AA type meeting for superheroes. It’s comical, refreshing and takes a surprising turn. Given how few pages there are for this and the Amazing Grace backups, there’s a hell of a lot on the page to chew on.
It’s hard out there.
- Riveting characters
- A ton of reading…worth reading!
- The last page was frustratingly confusing when it should have been tantalizingly confusing
I didn’t even talk about the artists…what a fool I am! I could go on and on, but take my word for it: Dan McDaid, Ulises Farinas and Paul Maybury do an incredible job with their stories. Their styles are varied, but they serve their stories incredibly well. Clearly they were chosen for the type of story being told and the storytelling aspect works for each.
And at $2.99 this issue took me forever to read, especially when compared to the leading Marvel and DC comic books. I finished the last issue loving how much content there was, but not feeling the story. This issue dispelled all of those problems by fleshing out the characters and delivering surprises that’ll make you laugh and cry out in shock. It’s typical for the second issue in a series to get bogged down on plot, but not so here. If anything it was the first issue that was bogged down. There’s just so much to love in this issue and I can’t help but get excited for what is instore for each character in the upcoming issues.
Is It Good?
Yes! It’ll take some work to read, but you’ll be rewarded every page of the way.