People often say that superhero comics are a soap opera. The characters are always going through dramatic moments and scenes; living through life events that might literally and figuratively crush normal people. Noble Causes takes that analogy a step further. This story really is a soap opera, the continuing drama of a family of very rich and very famous superheroes, and the scandals that they endure as a consequence of their fame.
I’ve read a few issues of this series over the years, and I’ve enjoyed them. It’s a real treat to now read the series collected in one giant book. The Noble Causes Archives is the Image Comics counterpart to Marvel’s “Essential” books or DC’s “Showcase Presents”–a nearly 600-page package of comics goodness, the perfect sort of thing to curl up with on a rainy weekend in Seattle.
With a book like this, you really get the ebb and flow of a story. Readers can get a feel for who the characters are and what motivates them. This sense of familiarity can be awkward in some of these sorts of books that reprint older comics since the creative staffs would often change frequently and the stories could be inconsistent at best.
However, with a series like Noble Causes, the opposite is true. Because each story is written by Jay Faerber, the book has a consistent and clear vision that spans the entire book. Characters always act in consistent manners, and plotlines advance in logical ways.
What’s more, this is a delightfully fun soap opera in comic book form. There’s romance and adultery, great betrayals and great revelations, secret relatives, murders, and lots of action. Yeah, this is definitely superhero comics, so readers do get plenty of action, as well as some uniquely super-heroic twists in stories.
The main characters in this book are the Nobles, a dysfunctional family of superheroes who are among the richest and most famous people in the world. They are hounded by paparazzi between public appearances, but some deep secrets lurk behind the walls of their mansion.
One secret is the pregnancy of the teenage spell-caster. She can create the illusion that she’s not pregnant, but how long till that secret gets out. And who is the father, anyway?
Another secret is the strange connection between Dr. Noble and the evil Steven Dockerty. What is the strange connection between the two?
Or there’s the multitude of illicit affairs and romances among the cast members. Who’s screwing who?
Then there’s also the strange and secret invasion of an alien planet. Who are the good guys and the bad guys in this event, and do the unicorns have anything to do with it?
I loved the hell out of this book, in part because of Faeber’s unpretentious commitment to his storylines. This book is a wonderfully escapist joy to read on a rainy day in Seattle when all you want to do is lose yourself in the absurd problems of a bunch of super-powered narcissists.