Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Small Gods #5 - A Review

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

I try to avoid reading previews as much as possible. Call me old-fashioned, but I like being surprised when I pick up a new book. And was I surprised this time! I had been expecting more adventures involving Owen Young, a cop who has visions of the future who also unwittingly discovers telepathic abilities that he cannot legally have and be allowed to keep his job.

The four issue opening arc of this title, Killing Grin, perfectly introduced us to the world of Small Gods; a world like ours, except that psychic powers are a scientifically recognized and heavily regulated force. Killing Grin also gave us a whole cast of interesting main and supporting characters. It was something of a shock then, to pick up this issue and find that while the amazing world Jason Rand has created is still here, the cast of characters has changed. And despite the fact that world-exploring titles are often high on concept but low on characterization, we get some amazing and memorable characters once again.

Robert Pope is a con-man with a gift. He can see flashes of the future seconds before they happen. He usually uses his talents at the poker table, where he can see his opponent’s hands before they are revealed. But his gifts also come in handy when his secret is ratted out to unhappy players and he’s forced to enter high-stakes fights for his life. Being able to see how a man is going to move to punch you is very useful too. Still, Robert quickly finds himself in over his head when he runs from a man before he has a chance to pull his badge and confirms his gift to a group of cops who want to use him for a mysterious job.

The issue, like all issues of Small Gods so far, concluded with a shorter comic. Whereas the last four issues gave us a four-part mini-comic, this time we are treated to a more humorous one-shot tale about a telekinetic cop writing up a report on his pursuit of a purse-snatcher.

As before, Ferreyra’s artwork is simply magnificent. The characters each have a distinct look to them and Ferreyra avoids the trap so many other artists fall into of drawing every character with the same jaw or the same hair. The greys used to color (in so far as greys can be called colors) this book are well-chosen and highlight the pencils and inks perfectly, creating images that seem closer to black-and-white photographs than comic-book artwork.

All in all, I’ve been surprised by every issue of this series so far; more so with this issue than any other. Still, the surprises have always been pleasant ones. And while I am not sure I can be truly surprised if I come to expect a surprise every time I read this book, I can be sure that I will always be given a pleasant read.

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