Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Gus Storms
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Rob Steen
Way, way back in January of 2014 I happened to stumble across EGOs #1 in an act of pure whimsy. Nothing about the comic particularly spoke to me and I was unfamiliar with the creators. I just kind of thought: “Hey look, a comic about egos, I have one of those.” That first issue rocked my space boots off and I’m very much an admirer of the series and its direction. After a small hiatus the returns this new arc splits the titular team into two parts which helps flesh out the massive world that features hyperspace, the Quantum Trust and a cyborg named Norman Coordinate.
Describing this series is both very simple and surprisingly tricky. It’s a galaxy-spanning superhero drama, but both the space/sci-fi and cape elements deviate from the norm so much that there is really nothing else with the vibe of EGOs . Stuart Moore and Gus Storms demonstrate more of their vision in issue #5 which starts to dip into the details of the “Crunch War”, a ballyhooed tragic event that is implied to be a turning point for the culture the characters live in. By separating the two main characters, the manipulative though earnest Deuce and his wife, the headstrong mommy-issue havin’ Pixel, the perspective shifts to more auxiliary characters.
Fellow Comicbulletians, did anyone else feel a little bit of overload after reading this issue? I mean it was digestible, but I didn’t exactly need a second dessert.
Jamil and team, there was a lot I loved in this comic. Writer Stuart Moore sets up a classic sort of Legion of Super-Heroes plot to this issue, with espionage squads and secret missions, but he continually undercuts the slick ultramodern sheen of Legion stories by setting this issue in a pit of a planet called Tortuga, where pretty much everyone stays drunk all the time and where everybody ignores everybody else. There’s a lot of snark, a bunch of side jokes, a funny scene in which several of the EGOs give up their identities to the general apathy of everybody around them, even a pointless bar fight that seems at least partially to exist because somebody wants to throw punches.
In other words, this is a fun and lighthearted view of a galaxy in which everybody is just as messed up as they are now and which the macguffin of the plot is just as confusing and weird as it should be.
Gus Storms contributes much of the vibe that you love, Jamil, with a style that sometimes seems too full its angularity and its celebration of grit, blood and other viscous fluids. But the approach works. It gives EGOs a unique feel of gleeful antisocial sci-fi whimsy that makes this issue a breeze to read.
This issue backs down from some of the mythology created in the first TPB, so there’s an interesting down-shift of tone here. This may not being a must-read every month, but it shows every sign of being a really fun comic to pick up every now and then.
Hey fellow Bulletineers, I’m on the fence about this issue, just as I am about the series entirely. It’s one of those books that despite how, “hmm…do I like this?” I am about it, I can’t help but read it. I mean, the art is great. I’m really enjoying the array of colors being used. The use of pastels and softer colors is a nice change from the bright neons and/or contrasting dark, gritty colors that are being used in a few of the sci-fi books I’m currently reading. It works for this comic and adds to the character and whimsy of, well, the characters.
Stuart Moore crammed a ton of great stuff into the first volume and it looks like he’s doing so in this new arc. Issue 5 opened a web of strings to follow and I’m excited to see where they all end up and how they connect. Jamil, you mentioned the Crunch War and the Quantum Trust, both very interesting paths to explore and serve as a nice parallel to one another. The Crunch War (past) has lingering effects and feelings, where as the Quantum Trust (present) is running by it’s side as another point of interest that is sure to cause some strife amongst these characters and the galaxy they inhabit.
I want to play devils advocate for a minute. I didn’t entirely like how Moore and Storms ended a couple of the issues in the first volume. Do you think some of the climaxes are a bit rushed or “too easy” of reveals/conclusions?
I agree, Michael, EGOs is definitely a title that likes to jump around. Not all of the plot developments are given enough room to breathe; the episode with the Reptile Order felt particularly rushed. In defense of Moore and Storms— I get the distinct feeling that they aren’t particularly interested in the external conflicts of this series. The universe of EGOs feels a lot more like a biology experiment, where the creative team examines how this interesting and universally snarky group of characters respond to external stimuli.
In that way, I definitely think EGOs is succeeding. The characters are all fun to be around, and I’m interested to see how they develop. However, the more I read, the more I feel like Moore’s quippy dialogue is layering a veneer over some of these characters, giving them some unearned depth. Throughout the first four issues, we hear Pixel talk a lot about the philanthropic activities that pull her away from Deuce and the EGOs, but we never really see her in that element. In the fifth issue, that conflict of interest is dropped entirely. The same goes for Shara. I know she’s a spunky troublemaker who wants to have fun, but I don’t see anything else in her the way I see depth in Deuce and even Godel.
The EGOs’ contact in this chapter, who gets the honor of being on the cover, is one of the most egregious instances of Moore using dialogue to liven up some strangely one-dimensional characters. I hate characters that talk purely in platitudes. They don’t exist. I guess it’s a little ridiculous to say that in a world filled with robots that argue for their sentience and galactic masses with suicidal tendencies, but it’s a lot easier to imagine yourself in worlds that don’t play by the rules as long as the characters in those worlds act the way that you would expect them to.
I know I’m being really hard on this book, but that’s because I deeply enjoy it in many ways. I love the relationship dynamic that Deuce and Pixel have. It’s not quite like any other coupling I’ve seen in a comic. I’d go so far as to argue that it even feels more layered than Alana and Marko’s relationship in Saga. It’s a dynamic that’s sorely missed in this issue, which plays out like a dramedy without a heart.
I respect Moore and Storm’s intentional decision to see how Deuce and Pixel work without one another, but that forces them to make sure the rest of the interpersonal relationships between the EGOs are as interesting as Deuce and Pixel’s are. I think that EGOs will get by regardless, since even Moore’s superficial dialogue is still fun to read and Storm’s art is always gorgeous (and improving!), but with some tweaking, I think this series could really soar.
Jamil: While you guys try to stay true to the Slugfest theme and rustle up some contention I’m going to diffuse it unceremoniously — I agree with the bulk of your criticisms. The quirks (and Quarks) of the title give it an peculiar flavor and sometimes there are moments and choices that are somewhat strange.
I will say though EGOs earns its flaws.There is so much fresh and fun in this ongoing that it gets leeway to test its boundaries. Moore takes some risks with the whole Tortuga thread and the results are mitigating. As Jason states above there is an attempt in this ish to pump the thrusters and explore the world and I’m not sure I’m a fan as I felt #4 also focused on a digressive setting. The plot so far as surprised me in this ability to meander, and yes, Michael, I agree with you that the first three issues seem to move fast (that reads as a contradiction but somehow not) . I thought the Masse storyline would go on far longer but it wrapped up and moved onward. That kind of stuff is jarring, but compels you to keep reading.
Stuart Moore is probably better known for his editing work and I think that’s a source of EGOs‘ strength, its exquisite structure. With scenes and dialogue carefully parsed out there are few sequences that drag on, everything is pushed forward. Elements like the intrusive narrator and the crafty, sleek ways the characters are introduced enhance just about everything, particularly the core story of Deuce and Pixel.
We’re also simpatico on the Storms’ art. I’m not entirely sure if the book succeeds at all without him. The color pallet he developed (and now taken up by Rauch) is magical, almost the inverse of what you’d expect from a smarmy sci-fi adventure. He’s improved his art a lot over the last year of issues, tightening his linework and refining the smooth and emotive style.
Even though EGOs #5 might be Storms’ finest effort I thought this issue the weakest on the series so far. I stand firm on the B+ rating because I hold the first arc in high regard but the script took a chance in slowing down the plot in leiu of having more side characters spout surly dialogue. Still, it’s the first part of a new arc so it gets a general pardon. This is still a very promising series.
MB: Alex, you nailed it on that one. EGOS is and always has been about the characters, not so much (as you mentioned) about the external struggles going on in their galaxy. The title is on the nose – sure it’s an acronym, but it’s definitely meant to reflect the bold personalities within the story.
I find the triangular relationship of Deuce, Pixel and her mother entertaining. It’s a classic monster-in-law sort of relationship and Moore clearly knows what he’s doing. He’s taken control of the characters and puts them into the perfect situations to suit their aspects (or not suit their aspects). Whichever the case, it works because each situation is constructed specifically for those characters.
I wouldn’t say I dislike Deuce, but I can’t help but think of a Reed Richards/Zapp Brannigan blend in his character. Clearly an egomaniac (ha-ha), but I’m most interested in the secondary characters. I find his burn-out son particularly enjoyable and hope he comes into the picture as more than the narrator eventually. As you’ve mentioned, Godel and his constant battle of proving his sentience is hilarious and a favorite of the series for me. Fear is becoming increasingly more layered, especially with the scene in vol. 1 where Fear takes off the inhibitor to get laid, yet mentions that he doesn’t like being “him” referring to Deuce. Moore has a lot of room to explore with the Deuce-clones finding identities with/away from being clones of Deuce.