Review: BLACKOUT #1

Written by Frank Barbiere
Art by Colin Lorimer
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 26, 2014

24172Since his breakout debut on Five Ghosts, Frank Barbiere has been fervently at the helms of many new comic titles recently. His new series Blackout from Dark Horse comics is the story of Scott Travers, a young man that mysteriously discovers a suit that is able to grant the wearer the ability to travel between parallel dimensions. His knowledge of the suit’s full capabilities are extremely limited and minimal, but his curiousity to find out isn’t.

Frank Barbiere has written a simple story premise for the first issue as we begin to learn about our main protagonist Scott Travers, his accompanied cast, as well as the setting and time for which everything takes place. There is nothing truly groundbreaking with what we are presented. We are given a modest slacker archetype in the main character Travers, who stumbles upon great power and uses that power to try and unlock a mystery. The story’s vehicle for introduction is through Travers as he attempts to differentiate, in a post-hangover manner, what’s been taking place in his dreams and what exactly was reality through his attempt to find his friend and mentor Bob. As we venture more into the day-in-the-life story of Scott Traver through his recantation, the reader is able to quickly navigate the initial stakes of and assess the typicality if it.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much presented that strikingly grabs your attention and holds it there with this debut issue. The allure and usage of black hole teleportation and parallel dimensions could’ve been an opportunity to artistically captivate the readers, to which artist Colin Lorimer falls short. Instead, we get a very basic style of storytelling that is so straightforward with it’s intention, that to describe it using the words “predictable” would just be, well, too predictable. While admittedly this is the debut issues of the series, it also succumbs to some of the pitfalls of #1’s trying to balance exposition and palpability, without coming off as highly expository or strained. We are bombarded with friendly dialogue that unsubtley explains the relationships between the characters, yet somehow without seeming too overtly construed. This issue errs on the side of caution and gambles that the premise and casual banter are enough to bait the reader, and fails to indulge the reader in the main hook of the story which is traveling through parallel dimensions.

While there is a mystery about Travers missing mentor Bob, there is little to offer in the comic book to entice that curiousity for the reader. It will be difficult for readers to even find a reason to care because very few of the main characters seem to care and we’re not even sure why they do or don’t. Travers puts on the mysterious suit, but we are offered no genuine perspective whatsoever as to why he’d risk his life and don a mysterious and potentially deadly suit to do so.

Artist Colin Lorimer does a steadfast performance on art duties and provides exquisite details in each panel. While, we get a fine performance of sequential art pieces, there’s a sentiment that the panels would assuredly shine had a bit more liberty been taken with the subject matter or be provided more direction to at least visually entice the reader. That’s not to say that Lorimer offers a terrible performance at all; his consistency and line work is extremely admirable and would have many writers begging for the opportunity to work for him. Regrettably there is just are very somber color tones employed throughout the issue that and not much to offer to engage the reader in terms of style and/or layout.

Having no prior knowledge of the title or its inclusion in Dark Horse presents, I’m at the mercy of detailed visuals and storyline and unable to get genuinely excited about this introductory issue. While it’s execution is respectable, the issue just doesn’t garner enough interest, visually or literally, and with a premise that alludes high hopes for fans of science fiction and action genres, this issue offers little in both regards. Instead it modestly and safely, treads water and doesn’t give readers any of those genre expectations that we desire from comic books of this type.

The Verdict: 7.0/10


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