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Credits & Solicit Info:
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller (cover): Mark Bagley
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Other: Tim Daniel
Editor: Jennifer Grunwald
Orig. Published: September 28, 2011
The Story: The first creator-owned book by ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, BRILLIANT tells the story of a handful of college-age geniuses who challenge each other to solve the mystery of superpowers. Can the best and brightest change science fiction into science fact? And if so, how will the world at large react? BRILLIANT is a thriller of the highest order. It is a story of how true power can either destroy or protect the strongest of friendships. It is the story of how the world will react when our true potential is finally unlocked. This fast-talking, whip-smart new series will thrill fans of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, POWERS and SCARLET. The first award-winning collection of Bendis and Bagley's ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN has sold well over one million copies.
Sometimes, people just aren't cut out to do what they're cut out to do.
In his autobigraphy Open, tennis great Andre Agassi confessed that he always hated playing tennis, and only did so for as long because he felt he had no choice. Pushed into tennis by his father at age six, he wasn't any good at anything else, being a ninth-grade dropout. However, once he founded the groundbreaking charter school in Las Vegas that bears his name, he realized he had something worth working for, something bigger than himself, and that eventually kept him going until well after the age at which most tennis players retire.
Sometimes, those who are supremely gifted in their field just need something else to do, or something new to work for. That seems to be the case with Albert, one of the central characters in Brilliant #1. Albert has just returned to college after a semester off, but he doesn't know if he wants to stick around. For one thing, he hates his major, biophysics, though he acknowledges that he is good at it. The same goes for his college buddies, who are all just so bored with school that they throw loud parties and have silly costume fights – those that haven't dropped out, anyway.
Despite all the partying, there is a core group of friends at this college who are walled off from the rest of the student body, and they recruit Albert to help them work on their new project, outside of the school's sphere of influence. This group of friends are set on creating their own superpowers.
Brilliant #1 synthesizes its dynamic premise from combining the very human need to achieve greater things with youthful arrogance that made us all think that we had all the answers in college. It brings together a dour restlessness with a somewhat sinster edge that plays on the fact that we know a lot of bad things will happen along with some good things. In that way, the story by Brian Michael Bendis is executed in a grounded, low-key energy that makes it instantly relatable. Few writers can pull off the "young people hanging out" vibe the way Bendis does, and the opening scene, wherein one of the main characters uses his powers to commit a bank robbery, allows for a lot of implied darkness to seep through the rest of the book.
The whole thing is rendered by Mark Bagley with a scratchier style than we're used to seeing from him. Joe Rubinstein's thicker inks and Nick Filardi's muted colors come together to bring about a grittier form to the comic that reflects its grungy sensibilities. Although the characters have lofty aspirations, they're dreaming from their idea of the gutter (which, to kids like these, would be an Ivy-League school that doesn't challenge them enough).
Brilliant #1 is about more than just idealistic young people reaching for the stars. The smartest thing about the issue is that it's as much about consequences, both potential and realized, as it is about the will to discover. The fact that Bendis and Bagley fit both sides of the "achieve greater" theme in the issue is something that keeps the story focused and should serve them very well for the rest of the series. Based on that level of craft, and its ideas, Brilliant could turn out to be a very surprising and engaging series.
Review by: Royal Nonesuch