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Enginehead #2
writer: Joe Kelly
artist: Ted McKeever

It's a new age for the DC Universe. A darker time needs edgier heroes, and the company promises a slew of such. With little fanfare, we presumably have gotten the first with a thing called Enginehead, a character full of darkness and edge.

He and his world are also tremendously creepy.

But does that make for a good book? McKeever's art has always been unsettling, and it serves that purpose here. But it also has a tendency to blur the main character. In many scenes, especially those with action, it's hard to tell where Enginehead begins and ends.

Part of that, too, seems by design. He clearly lives in a world of, if not greys, at least rust. Operating out of a Detroit laboratory/metal shop, Enginehead is often just another piece of equipment, the difference being that he has mobility. Oh, and a sentient chimpanzee that seems to have great plans for him.

Those plans differ from the intent of Enginehead's creator. Indistinctly troubled by the corruption of the world around him, this mad (not evil) genius merged six beings into one, this shambling monstrosity of metal and flesh that nevertheless fights for justice. At least, what it thinks is justice. Right there, this book probably lost a lot of people, for it's a grotesque premise and at the same time, troublingly vague.

One of the recognizable characters lost within Enginehead is Professor Hamilton, and it seems an ignoble fate for a guy that was once a staple of the Superman books. Joe Kelly clearly means for this to be some sort of redemptive act, but as yet, it still doesn't make any sense. After two issues, we have no more idea as to why the five had to be merged, or what really caused Enginehead's creator to even consider such an idea. Whatever the scientist's goals, they're not really being fulfilled, with an unexpected side-effect power that Enginehead can see the consequences of his actions. Sadly funny joke, but not the answers we might want. All we really know is that each individual within still has a lot of issues to work out, and that can't be good.

The real gift to the DC Universe, however, is that Kelly created a Robotman look-alike, Automan. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he may easily get retconned into the early days of Beast Boy, since Robotman "officially" has to wait another couple of weeks to make his first appearance.

But gifts aside, the book remains dark and confusing. That can be cool, but right now it just feels more unsettling than anything else. And that makes it hard to recommend.

If this is the new age for DC, we're going to keep looking back.


Derek McCaw

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