I love going to comics cons because you never know what kind of cool thing you might find. Case in point: Project ElOhIm.
It was the last day of Wondercon, I was doing a late sweep along the self-publishers’ tables when this very nice-seeming woman almost jumped out at me and asked me to take a look at her comic. It was a spy comic with superheroes but with a twist, and I really had to read the comic to understand why it was so terrific.
That woman was Rebecca Hicks, the writer of Project ElOhIm, and she did such a good job selling me on it that I had to buy it. How could anybody filled with so much enthusiasm not create a project that was worthwhile? Of course, I would still have done a review of this comic even if I hadn’t met Rebecca, because this is a darn good story.
It’s the story of the Office of Special Research–a secret government agency that is determined to recruit Caitlain Donald, a college student at Penn State who has some amazing powers to control minds. Caitlain resists the agency for a while, but ends up changing her mind as events unfold.
I really liked Caitlain as a main character. She’s flawed but in unique ways. I liked how she has a realistic sense of self-confidence. She’s neither a wallflower nor overconfident; instead, Caitlain seems to believe her natural abilities will allow her to learn how to use her heroic abilities. That’s cool, and a bit of a unique touch.
We all have areas that we’re learning about, and areas that we have less self-confidence about. Confidence in one area inevitably leads to confidence in other areas. We see that in Caitlain. She’s obviously smart and well-adjusted, so she knows deep inside that she can handle great challenges.
Where does Caitlain get this confidence? From her parents, of course.
Maybe the biggest surprise and coolest touch for me is how this comic veers away from the standard cliché of a character joining the spy game to either avenge murdered parents or overcompensate for a life in an orphanage. Hicks goes to great lengths to introduce Caitlain’s parents in this story, and she make them an explicit part of her decision-making process in choosing to join the spy game. For a change, we get a story where parents are involved with their kids and treat their kids well.
I’m making the book sound talky, which it isn’t. It has several terrific action scenes.
Chapter one presents a dramatic story of a rescue of students from a fire. It is during this scene tht Caitlain starts to manifest her abilities.
I especially liked the action scene in chapter three, where we see Caitlain and other heroes, including a guy with Steve Austin legs, fight a woman with terrific powers who is possessed by some sort of bizarre entity.
The running battle that takes up much of the third part of this graphic novel is exciting action, filled with clever dialogue and interesting twists and turns. Of course, our Caitlain plays a key role in the subduing of the threat. It’s a fun conclusion to an interesting arc.
If I remember what Rebecca told me at the con, artist Eliseu Goiveia lives a quiet life in Portugal and therefore didn’t attend Wondercon. However, he and Hicks work well together on this book.
Goiveia is still learning his craft, but it’s easy to see growth within these 100 pages. In chapter one, he seems to have an awkward feel for backgrounds. This problem is improved by chapter three, which is where he also seems to be having fun with page layouts as he plays with point of view to help accentuate the story.
I’m really glad that I had a chance to meet Rebecca Hicks and read her comic. I can’t wait to spend more time with Caitlain and her fellow spies.