Image Comics | Top Cow
(W) Singgih Nugroho & Ryan Cady (A) Sami Basri (C) Sakti Yuwono (D) Melita Curphy
The Top Cow arm of Image Comics has had moderate success in its licensing deal with Glitch Network, an Indonesian company specializing in action figures and concept artwork. The first two series, God Complex and Bonehead, successfully took the core ideas of the toy line and fleshed them out into a fully realized world. And while this third attempt, Dissonance, certainly does build up a new world, it does so with an execution that can only be described as unfocused and uninteresting. Despite their best efforts, the creative team of Singgih Nugroho, Ryan Cady, Sami Basri, and Sakti Yuwono cannot focus designer Melita Curphy’s ideas into a cohesive narrative.
“Dissonance” by definition refers to a lack of harmony and inconsistency. So at the very least, the book lives up to its name. Dissonance may have been better served as an anthology, or a collection of different stories which all exist in the same world. While one cannot presume how this book came about, the fact that the designer of the toys is listed in the credits (unlike God Complex or Bonehead), one can conclude that they played a significant role in the storytelling, mandating that certain things be included in the story. Further complicating matters is writer Singgih Nugroho’s complete lack of experience and the need from a script polish from Ryan Cady.
The opening salvo, which serves to introduce readers to this world, is an excessive, exposition dump. The story proceeds to jump around and give readers a serious case of tonal whiplash in the process. Any sleepiness experienced during the introduction is done away with as a bird-like person takes a bullet between the eyes while on the catwalk of a fashion show, before transitioning to a boardroom where we meet people that are full-syncs, half-syncs, and regular humans. There is bickering between a bunch of wholly unlikable characters, and the one that is the least grating is revealed to be the main protagonist… maybe. It’s not really clear because we then jump to a new set of characters, and we can assume that one of them is going to be our main character. But then we jump back. This speaks to the biggest problem with Dissonance #1. Nugroho has some really big ideas, but in unable to structure the story in a manner that the readers can latch onto. Characters are either, unlikable or unsightly, and the situations they find themselves are ones readers cannot hope to relate to without the assistance of intense mental gymnastics.
Despite its flaws, Dissonance #1 is not a total misfire. The visuals by artist Sami Basri and colorist Sakti Yuwono are stunning. Basri, an industry veteran, benefits from the go-for-broke nature of the script and is able to create dynamic and stimulating artwork. Yuwono, who’s past work includes Ultimate Spider-man, is the real star of this issue. The color palette is a varied, sugar-rush explosion that firmly grabs the reader and refuses to let go. The vibrancy of the colors goes a long way to sell how fantastical this world truly is, and that readers should strap in for an imaginative experience. For all the faults to be found in the story, the art team brings their A-game.
Dissonance #1 is a deeply flawed comic. In spite of the best efforts of the art team, the comic cannot overcome its frazzled and unfocused story. There is a lot of potential for the creative team to flesh out, and maybe it will live up to that potential in the coming issues. However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order for this book to meet the standard set by its sister-series from Top Cow and Glitch Network.