Thursday, September 30, 2004

Small Gods #3 - A Review

Written by: Jason Rand
Penciled by: Juan E. Ferreyra
Inked by: Juan E. Ferreyra
Colored by: Juan E. Ferreyra
Lettered by: Jim Keplinger
Editor: Kirsten Simon
Publisher: Image Comics

It took me a while to get around to reviewing this book, as I’ve had to struggle to get copies of it from the shop I work at. And by the time I DID get a hold of it, the deadline for requesting to do a certain review had passed. Thankfully, I was given free reign to review whatever I wanted this week and was able to grab the last copy on Small Gods #3 on my lunch break. So now, I can finally tell you all about what is easily the best new title to come out this year.

Owen Young is a honest cop. He is also a psychic in a world where telepathic powers are recognized as real and heavily regulated by the government. Owen has the ability to see crimes before they happen; a useful power for a cop. Or rather it would be, if bureaucracy didn’t require him to take a telepathic lie-detector test to verify each of his visions as real while the clock is ticking. The law also prohibits him from arresting people before the fact, so Owen has to hope he can catch criminals in the act before anyone gets hurt.

Owen’s problems begin when, during a bank robbery bust, he is telepathically attacked by an unlicensed telepath. Owen is able to push back, being a latent telepath himself. Unfortunately, telepaths are not legally able to serve as cops. This is due to all the legal problems that arise with mind-readers being able to find out just the right questions to ask a suspect.

It matters little that Owen didn’t discover his powers, weak as they are, until he was already on the force and it will seriously jeopardize the whole department, to say nothing of Owen’s life, if the suspect is ever able to identify Owen. To that end, the entire department steps up to back-up Owen, with fellow officer Jodi officially replacing Owen as the arresting officer and Owen being sent on extended vacation until the whole situation blows over. Owen goes home, where his girlfriend leaves him, afraid that her love for him may have been telepathically implanted. That brings us to this issue, which opens as Owen’s partner John shows up on his doorstep and suggests that the only way they can get out of this is to arrange an accident for the would-be bank robber.

Rand’s premise for the world of this comic is nothing short of brilliant and guaranteed to be a hit among multiple-audiences. Fans of NYPD Blue and Law and Order will love this for the spot-on portrayal of police life with a twist. X-Men fans will enjoy the more realistic spin on how superpowers might be a source of discrimination even as they are utilized and exploited by the same system that fears them. The writing matches the inspired premise, with all the characters possessing distinct personalities and the dialogue sounding appropriate, with a sprinkling of profanity but nothing particularly gratuitous. (No one F-word for ever five words, here!)

The artwork is every bit the equal of the writing. Ferreyra’s style is not unlike that of Tony Harris, but not quite so dependent upon shadows. His faces are as distinct as Rand’s personalities and there is little danger of any characters being confused due to the artwork. The phrase “photo-realistic” is bandied about far too much by comic reviewers today, but I am at a loss as to how else I can describe the appearance of the artwork here. It is something unique unto itself, and nothing emphasizes that more than the credit on the first page where Ferreyra is listed as “Artist” and “Greys”. There is no color in the comic besides shades of grey and the grey’s are utilized expertly, making every page look as if it were captured by a black-and-white camera rather than a pencil. But penciled it is, and quite well!

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