I have been steering clear of capes lately, honestly. Nothing against the capes. I grew up on them, I love them, and 70% of my pull list is Valiant (I just haven’t read any of them in three months). It was a phase. I must emphasize “was” a phase.
So, premise: our hero has a boring job, he gets the hell shocked out of him at work, and he wakes up with low-key super powers in a world with heroes and villains. There is a splash of family tragedy, and some sort of self-doubt inferiority complex, whatever. The premise is not this book’s strength, it is nothing new in and of itself, but it is its interpretation of a simple idea that holds its strength.
As I opened on Binary Gray by writer Chris Charlton and artist Rowel Roque, I started piling up preconceived notions. “Our hero talks to machines, what the hell, that is just Deus Ex-Machina all over again.” The super heroes felt like tropes, the villains much the same, I felt I needed to recoil away from capes again for a minute.
But… I kept pushing forward, and the deeper into the book I got, the more I enjoyed the story. Characters began to develop, and I sincerely found myself curious as to where the book would take me. Now, there are moments, that feel a bit cheesy, ridiculous, or sometimes simply a stumble of pacing, but for an indie work of passion, this book manages to run the marathongauntlet of crafting a book in the comics medium with surprising grace.
By the time you reach story’s end, there is a decent bit of finely woven character development, and the tropes I gnashed my teeth at seemed to fade away, as I found myself enjoying each new page.
The art is solid. There is nothing that felt earth shattering or ground breaking here, but it does manage to maintain pretty fierce consistency, which is something I have seen books slung out by both the big two fail at many times over the years. There was nothing here that made my jaw drop in awe, but I never stumbled across a scene that made me go “what the bloody hell was the artist thinking?!” Rowel Roque seems to be at the start of his sprint towards something truly fantastic, and I for one, cannot wait to see how his talents progress over the years.
Chris Charlton has crafted a world and characters that, though not perfectly polished, do invoke a soul and a passion that a ton of books on the stands just don’t display. So, I for one, look forward to the follow-up volume of this heroic tale. Fingers crossed it won’t be a long wait.
In summation, none of the ideas feel terribly new, but this book managed to jerk me out of my anti-capes stupor of the past few months. The characters and story start slow, but as momentum builds, the story grows solid and the characters develop intrigue. The art, though not stupefying, is strong and consistent, and seems to grow stronger with each page.
3 ½ out of 5.