And so we reach the end of the first arc to They’re Not Like Us. I bowed out of reviewing the series early on, back when I found it intolerable due to nearly an entire cast of underdeveloped jackasses.
However, I kept reading the book on the side to see what happened next and to the series’ credit, things did get eventually better and moved into an interesting territory once the writer focused on developing the story and the characters (what a novel concept). How does the opening arc end? Is it good?
They’re Not Like Us #6 (Image Comics)
Everything that has been building for Tabitha (aka “Syd”) comes to a head here. It’s time for her to make up her mind and decide what she needs to do with her life. Does she join this group or go her own route? Syd has her final confrontation with the characters in the house about all of their misdeeds, especially The Voice, and we even have her finally talk to her parents. There’s not much story beyond that, outside of Blurgirl’s attempted suicide. However, despite that and outside of one point, this was a good way to wrap up this arc and even the series to a certain degree.
I wonder what is casting pyramid shaped shadow in the background?
Like said, this is Tabitha’s time to shine and she does so by finally calling everyone out on their BS beliefs and concepts about good and evil that almost any normal person (hopefully at least) would find to be garbage. As she puts it herself, it’s unevolved and honestly makes them look just as bad as the people they themselves look down upon. However, she also admits to understanding these characters and is sort of grateful that they at least set her straight about who she is and that her powers aren’t all that terrible. It’s a good conclusion she reaches that does make sense considering everything she has witnessed over this entire arc and it’s satisfying to see her leave.
There are only two downsides to this ending, one that’s big and a bit more personal to me and the other is smaller. The first is the fact Tabitha mindwiped her parents into forgetting that she ever existed. Let’s ignore the fact that there are many plot holes with her trying to cover up her existence (or that she even has the ability to make people forget things) and focus on something else. Tabitha claims that her parents were completely awful to her, but there’s no real, strong indication that they were. Sure, they thought she was crazy and had taken her to see physiatrists and take lots of medication, but that’s more due to ignorance and not knowing the real truth. Every time we’ve seen them, they’ve been shown to be pretty caring people and ultimately very worried about her. Heck, even when Tabitha talks to them at the end and reveals the truth, there’s no sense of anger or that they think she is even crazy. As such, since all we have is to rely on Tabitha’s word and given what we do see of her parents… it’s honestly hard to justify what she does at the end and it makes her lose a bit of sympathy.
With people like this, it’s amazing that this entire house hasn’t collapsed in on itself yet.
The second thing to mention is the ending itself. Given the way that arc ended, how almost everything is resolved, and where everyone is at the end… where will this comic even go after this? Tabitha’s arc is over and she seems satisfied with what she is doing at the end, with nothing left for her character to do. Most of the subplots are wrapped up, besides two minor points (but they are not that major). Then there’s the last scene with The Voice himself, which could serve as an end for his storyline and everyone else’s with what he decides at the end. Where do you go from here honestly? Unless Eric Stephenson has some major plans, it seems like this would be a fitting conclusion. It’s a small point like I said, but it’s something that I couldn’t help but think about when I read the issue.
Turning to the writing now by Eric Stephenson, it is pretty good outside of one area. The pacing is slower in They’re Not Like Us #6, since all of the major reveals and shocks came in the last two issues, but it works since the comic seems to be going for a quieter finale. There were no obvious issues with the story structure or transitions. The characterization for our lead is great besides that one point, since you can really see how much she has developed over these past few issues. Everyone else leaves a lot to be desired, since there isn’t really all that much growth or time spent with them here besides two of the characters making a decision at the end and Maisie (this is the only issue where she actually seems unsure of herself and has to realize she and her powers are not as great as she thought). The dialogue is decently handled and like expected, the main character gets all the best and most satisfying lines here. Overall, this feels like a good step up for the writing from where I last reviewed it.
Hold on a second… what the hell is up with that painting? It looks like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle.
Lastly, we turn to Simon Gane’s artwork and honestly, I’m still not that big of a fan. Gane’s work here isn’t bad at all mind you, but it’s not particularly memorable either. The characters are drawn well enough and have a decent range of expressions, the layouts are fine and I do appreciate that Gane puts the time into mostly doing backgrounds for all of his panels. However, there’s nothing interesting visually or striking going on in the book and one area that did make me scratch my head is some of the coloring by Jordie Bellaire. It was the fact there were a lot weird, angular shadow effects that make no sense giving the lighting and location. Heck, in one scene, the shadows and colors made it look like the page had a huge and vague watermark in the center. It’s not a common occurrence, but it was noticeable more on my second read through.
Is It Good?
They’re Not Like Us #6 is a remarkable and strong conclusion to the comic’s first arc. The first half of this story was incredibly weak and slow at best due to a lack of forward progression with story or development with the cast. However, the second half ultimately saved this comic and renewed my interest in the series as a whole due to the interesting direction the series went in. Hopefully, wherever this comic goes from here, it does not squander its potential.