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Touch #1
Writer: John Francis Moore
Artist: Wes Craig

Why? Why are Marvel and DC so desperate to make imprints? Whatever happened to the days when a new comic line from the big two had a really solid reason for existing?

Obviously, I'm bitching about the new DC Focus line, created to give DC a new universe to work in where superheroes don't exist and super powers are just manifesting. I'll admit it's a better concept than Marvel's "let's-make-everything-look-like-weird-manga" Tsunami line, but was anyone really asking for it?

Touch begins with Rory Goodman, super-strong hero for hire, saving a bunch of construction workers from certain death underneath a collapsed building. His "manager" Cooper Santiago lurks on the sidelines, working out payment details with the construction company's representative and generally coming off like a bit of a weasel before his first page ends. Rory then embarrasses himself on national television by running away when a Larry King-clone pressures questions him on the death of his wife. Cooper chills Rory out, but he only goes on to embarrass himself on other public stages, lamenting the loss of his wife, getting drunk, and destroying more public property with less reason than any "hero" ever would.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell what the book is really about until you reach the last page, and I'll be generous enough not to ruin that one surprise.

That said, Touch is probably the "ho-hum" premier of the season. Is it awful? No, not really, but do I care about it? Nope. The world it's set in doesn't have anything intrinsically fascinating about it and the characters take us down very familiar paths we've already seen in numerous modern age Marvel and DC books. While comics don't always need an outlandish setting or bizarrely unique heroes to make them readable (just look at the works of Andi Watson), removing those elements puts that much more weight on the storytelling, which just doesn't hold up here.

And since when is there skyrocketing market demand for comics about super-powered people who aren't superheroes? We've gotten quite a bit of that, lately, and it's been proven that, like all things, you need a new take on the formula to justify new books. Touch may be building up to that new take, but it's going about it at a rock's pace and, from what we've already seen, doesn't have much to offer on the subject.

Back in the day, these new imprints from The Big Two came about to address specific flaws in the main line. Vertigo launched to provide mature stories for mature audiences, the short-lived Milestone imprint came about to give ethnic superheroes a greater venue, and DC even made the Elseworlds not-quite-line to handle alternate reality stories without screwing up DCU continuity (yeah, I know, but it was a noble effort).

It may be unfair, but I think back to the first issue of The Sandman whenever I see a new imprint pop up. That plot, though not nearly as developed as the book would eventually become, started with an immensely interesting concept and set up conflict upon conflict upon conflict. A number of things happened in that opening that had nothing to do with the immediate story and some parts, in fact, wouldn't be returned to for nearly a year- but it hooked you.

Touch #1 definitely gives us an idea of what's going on, yet it fails to offer us any reason to keep on reading. The art is decent and the concept isn't wholly without merit, but where's the hook? The only conflict occurring thus far has been resolved, so what are we reading now? It seems like they may still be able to do something with this title, but this opening chapter serves merely as a tease, which just isn't enough to justify buying it. If they're smart, the creative team will rush down the "Ultimate" Hollywood Agent avenue open to the story and develop some new conflicts rather than deliver us another bloated half issue like this outing.

However, two things are clear by the end of this issue: we know who has the touch, and sadly, we also know who doesn't.


Jason Schachat

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