At 64 pages, Enormous lives up to its title, although you can’t help but wish that this one-shot comic had a few pages more. While the art is lovely in a Mikel Janin-style, with some exceptional work done on digital coloring to create a unique feel which stops the reader from constantly being pulled out of the computerized composition, the story is abrupt, convoluted and confused.
The storytelling is the main problem with Enormous, which sees every living thing on Earth (apart from, for plot reasons, humans) mutated and evolved so we become the bottom of the food chain. It’s a clever concept for an apocalypse, and creates a brilliant situation which allows artist Mehdi Cheggour the opportunity to draw an assortment of familiar creatures mutated beyond all belief. I was especially fond of the giraffe which mutated its neck back upon itself, so it could eat food from the floor without having to stoop — that thing was adorable in a murderous sort of way. The monster sections are great, with varying fight sequences (and massively one-sided ones, pleasingly) and a range of styles. While Cheggour doesn’t fully flesh out the battles — he really needs to introduce more panels to guide us through the attacks, so we can actually tell what’s going on — the broad beats of the fights are distinct.
The problem lies with the human side of the story, as — isn’t it ever so? — the humans have turned on each other and are too busy fighting each other to deal with the monsters. Slightly predictable, but certainly not helped by Cheggour’s artwork. So distinct when drawing the monsters, his humans all look the same, and are impossible to tell apart. As a result it’s utterly impossible to sympathize or understand any of the characters. Heck, it’s hard to know who the main character is. I gave up after 20 pages, and just started reading for the snuff aspect, instead of the human struggle for survival. Characters show up, look the same as each other, then some of them get killed, some of them vanish into thin air, and it’s a nightmare trying to work out what’s happening.
A lot of this falls on the work of Tim Daniel, the writer. Whilst his dialogue is good — and excellent on occasion, such as when a child survivor recounts the time her mother was killed — his plotting and pacing are difficult. The infrequent flashbacks are a help in understanding the characters, but for the most part we have no idea why anybody is doing anything. There’s a group of people who have made it their mission to rescue children — all very well and good. But then there’s a group of people who kidnap one (or two) of that team, and want to kill them? Or use them for experiments? Or something like that. It’s not explained properly, and there are countless moments like this. The overall atmosphere is well-laid over the top of the story, but the story is all over the place. Scenes aren’t properly explained and the characters are unmemorable. The only two characters I could keep a grip on were the black guy and the one with the hat, simply because one was black and one wore a hat.
Enormous is a tremendous, original concept, designed brilliantly. The problem is that it’s far too muddled and confused in the story it wants to tell. There’s a sense that Daniel doesn’t want to give too much away to the reader, and that’s admirable to start with. Yet, when we’re 50 pages into the story, it really does feel like time to start explaining who these people are, which ones we’re meant to like, and what’s going on. Enormous also ends with an anti-climax, which is somewhat predictable but also ends the story without answering many of the questions it raises. Because the character-work is poor, and the artist struggles to make them distinct, Enormous becomes the comic book version of a substandard video game. It looks pretty, but nobody cares about any of the characters and there’s just that little bit too much lens flare. It’s a massively impressive piece of work, but it hasn’t got heart and ultimately the story simply isn’t there.
Steve Morris is the head and indeed only writer for Comics Vanguard, the internet’s 139th most-favorite comic-book website. You can find him on Twitter at @stevewmorris, which is mostly nonsensical gibberish you may enjoy or despise. His favorite Marvel character is Darkstar, while his favorite DC character is, also, Darkstar. He’s on Team X-Men, you guys.