No, X-Men fan, you haven’t missed a new solo comic featuring the leader of the X-folx. Cyclops is not a new X-title intended to fill completists with joy. Instead, this is a new science fiction series by the creative team behind Archaia’s series The Killer. Since I’m a big fan of The Killer, news of this series filled me with joy.
Unfortunately, this first issue has a lot of exposition and not a lot of execution. Which is to say, this issue spends a lot of time setting up a complex near-future world while not providing readers with a huge amount of action.
It’s an interesting world, and our main character, the brilliant and strong Doug Pistoia is an interesting lead character, but there’s just an awful lot of plot density to this story that makes it a bit slow to work through as a first issue. Pistoia is an honor student from Boston University forced by the poor economic circumstances of the United States to enlist in a future army run by a contractor for the United Nations. There are interesting parallels to life in the world today, to armies like Blackwater and our current worldwide economic situation.
The large amount is exposition is actually not that much of a bad thing, either. The pace of this comic is the opposite of decompressed storytelling. There’s a richness and complexity to the background of this story, attributes that one would expect from the creative team behind the very rich and complex world of The Killer. For instance, Cyclops goes to great lengths to explain the importance of the United Nations in the world of 2054, showing how the UN fits in the interesting geopolitical world that Matz has created.
In a major way, this book as a strong European feel – appropriate since Matz is French. Where an American creative team would emphasize the action of the book, Matz chooses to emphasize the setting. No doubt readers will have much more action available to them – this is just the first of an eight-issue limited series. And no doubt all of this stage-setting will pay off in a big way.
All that said, though, this first issue is still awfully dense with exposition, with characters talking to each other at great length without a lot of obvious payoff for the readers at this point. Worse, all this talking minimizes the impact of Jacamon’s interesting art. There’s an opening three-page action sequence that bespeaks of his wonderful storytelling ability – which we have also seen at play in his work on The Killer. But the majority of the issue is spent depicting talking heads in prosaic settings, not suspenseful action scenes in exotic settings.
Of course, this review really is the equivalent of reviewing the first 20 minutes of a movie. All of the flaws that seem so evident at this point may end up being virtues in the end. I trust these terrific creators to deliver a good graphic novel based on their history. But the first chapter is a bit slow.