HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Graphic Depictions Today's Date:


The really great comics leave us with something after we’ve finished them. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a line of dialogue that echoes inside our heads for hours, trying desperately to explain itself to the reader.

Sometimes it’s something more, or possibly worse; I remember after I’d read V for Vendetta for the first time, it was something like 1:00am. I kept staring up at the ceiling of my bedroom, not really thinking about anything but thinking. I wasn’t geeking out over what a great comic I’d read or how wonderful Moore was as a writer, but I was remembering something that was in the introduction Moore wrote to the graphic novel, when he was talking about the British then recently (in the 1980s) passing Clause 28, which called for homosexuals to be rounded up and placed in concentration camps to stem the tide of AIDS. He said something to the effect of “England’s not a nice place anymore. I don’t think I want to live here.”

This is bad paraphrasing on my part, but that line kept flying through my head as I replayed every panel of that comic book. It’s been years since that night, and I’ve re-read V since then with no ill-effect, but what I remember most after reading it for the first time is that I was afraid. Not of a totalitarian regime of English Thatcherites or a knife toting, bomb-happy vigilante; I think I was scared of the comic itself. I think I was scared that within two slim pieces of cardboard resided a story that was powerful, frightening, and horrible, that showed every facet of the human condition from the soul-gutting depths of despair to the freedom and dignity inherent in the human spirit. Yeah it was a story, with characters interacting and all the regular stuff, but underneath the plot and the themes and the dialogue was something frightening.

The best I can do to describe it might be to say that it’s the same as when you’re standing on the edge of a cliff looking down. Your feet are stable and safe and you know this, but when you look over that edge, suddenly you’re not fine and you’re not stable and your heart is beating faster than it should. Your knees get weaker and you have to step back, only you can’t step back after you’ve read something. You just stare it right in the face and hope it goes away.

I’ve never felt this with another comic until now, some time this afternoon when I read Kinetic. The story the creators tell is a story that captures humanity in ways rarely seen in a book about people with superpowers. It gives a brutal and honest account of the teenage condition and demonstrates the utterly insane thoughts that can entrench themselves within our minds at that age. And it shows us that those thoughts never really leave us.

The book was created by Allan Heinberg (The O.C., Young Avengers) and Kelley Puckett (Batgirl), penned by Puckett himself with artwork from Warren Pleece. It is the story of Tom Murrell, a boy stricken by diseases of every kind, sickly and infirmed since early childhood. His only friend is his mother, a woman so obsessed with keeping her son alive that life itself has lost any other meaning, yet a woman that both hates and loves her son for the burden he represents. Tom hates his life to the point of considering death as the better deal. Then Tom discovers that he has powers.

Here is where we should see the emergence of the classic troubled-teen-gets-powers scenario, wherein the teen gets powers, does some good, becomes a hero, etc. We do not actually see that. Instead the narrative takes a turn for the original in that nothing happens. Tom’s weakness, his insular life, is not escapable. Even with a body powerful enough to crush boulders, he is still a prisoner in his own mind, monologing his every thought and action inside his own head. He has fantasies about using the powers he has, but never actually acts on them. He has dark thoughts that seem horrific, but Puckett subtly reminds the reader that these thoughts are the same ones we all have: violent urges, thoughts of using force to get what we want, etc.

And because these thoughts are self-contained within the mind of the main character, we see them as he does, with no outside moral framework. The reader is forced to judge Tom by his own standard of moral behavior, which is extremely intriguing, forcing us to both be disgusted by and feel empathy for him.

The artwork by Pleece is excellent, owing a lot to the choice in coloring done by Wendy Broome and Brian Haberlin; the entire comic is colored in only varying shades of red and blue, with black inking and gray shading. Pleece’s style is highly reminiscent of Daniel Clowes' work on comics like Eightball and Ghost World, with a style stressing facial expression and realism.

Moreover, Pleece’s style of pacing is nothing short of excellent; he is willing to go from a full page panel to cramming sixteen panels to a page, and because he has a slow revealing style that establishes each panel, it never feels disjointed or wrong. The story flows easily, making it a literal page turner, as well as functioning parallel to the high and low points of Puckett’s script. Combined with the contrasting color structure, the artwork on this, while not always the perfect aesthetic visual, is some of the most in-depth and engrossing artwork I’ve seen in comics.

And here I’ve described, maybe even gushed over all the very good technical aspects of this comic, and as I look down on it lying on my desk, there is still a small tick at the back of my neck. It’s scary how very much the main character’s thoughts are transmitted to the reader. The writer has created a story that demands you feel what the character feels, never allowing us to step outside the small world of Tom’s head. We really experience what he feels, with no room for anything else.

And I think that’s what the fear might be: that we could get pulled in or pulled over the edge of a story and fall into it. The good stories leave us with something. They leave us with a clear understanding of the power one story, one tale, one character can have over us. They show us their influence and when we see it, we cringe a little because we didn’t know it was so easy to take us over. Kinetic is one of those stories, and if you can look over the edge and not stumble, is well worth $9.99 for eight issues of material.


Robert Sparling

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites