I hadn’t heard of writer Curt Pires or artist Jason Copland before reading the first issue of POP. Heck, I wasn’t even aware of the comic’s existence until this month. However, I’m always one who is willing to be surprised, so let’s check it out. Is it good?
POP #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Everything you know about pop stars and idols? Yeah, they were a complete lie. The real truth is that they were grown and created by a group of very wealthy people and mad scientists to sell to music companies. However, the group has a run into a major problem. One of their newest home-grown humans, Elle Ray, has escaped from their base and now they need to find her before they get into major trouble.
The only thing to be ashamed of is not properly cleaning your toilet after a while.
Honestly, having just finished reading this comic, I am just really underwhelmed and unimpressed with it. The premise sounds interesting, with the idea that pop stars are literally manufactured for music companies, and if done right, this could make an interesting story. I’ve seen very compelling and fascinating comics like this before where people who are cloned/created for the purposes of entertainment or for other reasons (like Punk Rock Jesus or Afterschool Charisma), but the results here are not that interesting and it just doesn’t live up to the premise’s potential. It’s basically just a story about a person running away from a shady organization and going into hiding (I’ve seen that story done better in other kinds of mediums by the way), with the music angle only being brought up in the beginning and the end. Maybe this could have been done better if we actually spent the first issue focusing solely on manufactured pop stars angle before tossing it out.
But what about the characters? Are they interesting? Not really at this point. Elle has the most potential to be interesting, being a fully grown human and all the baggage that carries. The thing is that she doesn’t really do much outside of being the damsel in distress and the subject of a forced romance that appears to be building. She needs a lot more fleshing out. There’s Coop, the guy she’s hiding out with, and he has a bit more character to her, since he appeared to be planning on committing suicide before she came into his life. However, he ends up just being your stereotypical nice guy since there is not much else to him. There’s also parody Justin Beaver (nothing to him honestly) and Spike Vandall, the shady lead scientist that grows pop stars, but here’s just your typical shady/evil government/scientist leader with no depth to him either. Just a weak showing there as well.
In hindsight, stacks of comic books turned out not to be good hiding spot in Hide-and-Seek as a child.
Pires’ writing otherwise isn’t particularly bad. The dialogue is serviceable and gets the job done, but nothing stands out besides some corny and goofy sounding lines. The pacing is fine for the most part and the story structure is okay, though there is on rare occasion an awkward transition. Most of the themes and thoughts about the music industry used in the story don’t feel all that compelling honestly, and instead feel crammed in and underused. The ending is alright, but considering how lackluster everything before that point had been, it doesn’t really get you much excited for finding out what happens next.
Copland’s artwork is perfectly fine. The characters look alright, though their range of expression varies and the further a person is in the background, the more cartoonish they look. Layouts are decent for the most part and there are some nice scenes where they flow relatively well. The coloring is okay, but it doesn’t really enhance the comic all that much. The more sci-fi designs seen in the issue are rather confusing and silly looking. For instance, this futuristic lab where they make people looks like it is held together by gigantic wads of chewing gum.
Ever get the feeling that the sci-fi genre is rather icky?
Is It Good?
POP #1 is nothing particularly special. It’s got an admittedly interesting premise, but the execution, the story, and the characters leave a lot to be desired. There is some decent writing and artwork to be seen, but they are not enough by themselves able to overcome the comic’s other weaknesses. Maybe it’ll get better as time goes on, but right now, you are better off listening to pop music than reading this comic.