The synopsis of Quantum Teens Are Go #1 teases a few pretty awesome sounding things: superlabs, time machines, and mysterious entities all wrapped up in punk attitude. Sounds pretty cool, right? The debut of this new Black Mask book by Magdalene Visaggio and Eryk Donovan has some interesting ideas, but it is missing a bit of polish in this first issue.
Quantum Teens Are Go #1 (Black Mask)
The book opens with Nat and Sumesh, the high school couple at the center of the story, fighting robots, and it doesn’t really let up from there. Both outsiders, Nat and Sumesh are members of a DIY community that steals old parts from abandoned science labs for their own inventions. The two are attempting to make a time machine, both for their own use, and as a sort of audition to join a more legit superscience team. Mixed in with the high-concept plot are hints at some run of the mill high school drama.
The art is bright, colorful, and kinetic. Right off the bat, on page two, Donovan has a great full page of Nat, a punk skater girl, cracking a robot’s head with a set of wire cutters while Sumesh backs her up with his ray guy. If you see that and you don’t get at least intrigued, you might want to think about why you read comic books. After the strong opening, though, the art gets rougher. Tight line work from the first couple of pages starts getting really sketchy and loose towards the end, and during the dialogue-heavy lunch scenes at school, faces lose a lot of detail. It’s kind of a shame since the opening art hooked me so well. Ultimately, this lack of polish in the art is indicative of issues I had with the script.
As I read, I couldn’t help but think “why are they talking like that?” or “that is really on-the-nose.” There is very little subtlety, which leads to some forced-sounding dialogue and big info dumps. I think this is probably most apparent in the school scenes with other teenagers. Nat and Sumesh are obviously pretty smart to be working on time travel-y stuff, so they end up doing a lot of explaining to people. I get that it’s an easy way to fill in the reader, but I think I’d rather go for a bit of a ride and have it revealed more organically. There are a few other moments like this in the book that are clunky. My other issue with the script was Nat’s punk characterization. She comes across a bit much some times, almost like she’s trying to be too edgy and in-you-face. She seems like someone who’d be at home at Hot Topic.
Overall, I can see what Visaggio and Donovan were shooting for, and I think they have a pretty okay start here. This issue, though, is just a little bit too rough for me to really be enthusiastic about it. Hopefully issue 2 will have a bit more editing with tighter art that will help pull readers into a story that I think could end up being neat.