In Review: Prodigy #1

A solid introduction issue that has a prodigy demonstrating his abilities before coming upon a mystery.

The covers: I’ve discovered nine different covers online, but there could be more for this premiere issue. The Regular cover is by interior artist Rafael Albuquerque and introduces the reader to lead character Edison Crane reenacting the classic pose of Rodin’s The Thinker. Crane is wearing a tailored three piece suit and is holding an automatic rifle in his left hand. Nice tease of the character that sums him up nicely. The next cover is a Black and White edition of the same cover. If one wants to see Albuquerque’s art in its original state, this is one to pick up. The three covers that follow are also by Albuquerque and form a triptych of several of Millar’s characters from other books. I haven’t read many of these books, so, sadly, these are mostly strangers to me. The first cover features a man in a white suit looking down, next to Candice, who I’m assuming to be Crane’s scheduler. Crane himself dominates the far right, with his hands in this pockets looking at the reader with his piercing powder blue eyes. Nice. The middle piece of the triptych has a man in a violet and blue costume next to the title character Empress. Between the pair in the foreground is a young woman wearing a white tee, exposing her belly, and short white shorts. Crane’s shoulder is on the far left and a buff blonde man’s arm is emerging from the right side. The final piece features this bulky man, another man dressed in a flowing white cape and cowl, a tweenager holding a book with his left hand open at the reader. In the background are the Chrononauts. Frank Quietly is responsible for the first Variant cover. This features Crane flying off a flaming motorcycle, his safety suit also aflame, while working on a laptop. The man’s helmet spirals behind him. This was such a strange cover that is both cool and funny, I purchased it. The Blank Sketch Variant cover is exactly as one would expect, featuring only the title, publisher, price, number, and writer and artist’s names at the top, leaving a blank cover for one to get their favorite artist to create a one of a kind illustration or get the creators to sign. I love these covers, but without anything on them they’re lacking. I also discovered a Sajad Shah Variant cover that mirrors an image from the film The Wolf of Wall Street. Crane is standing before the reader with his arms crossed, an automatic rifle in his arms. Behind him are a group of people that look as though they exploded from Federico Fellini’s brain: naked women, midgets, men in funny hats, chimpanzees gambling, and money flying about. I like it. The final cover is the Quah Variant that is the least effective of the bunch. In the upper left quadrant Crane is firing his gun into the bottom right corner at an unseen foe. This is primarily a colorist’s cover, because colors comprise the majority of the cover, creating a fiery debris field. The colors are good, but the illustration comes off as insignificant. Seeing the foe would have improved this substantially. Overall grades: Regular A-, Black and White A, Triptych 1 A+, Triptych 2 B, Triptych 3 B, Quietly Variant A+, Blank Sketch Variant C, Shah Variant A, and Quah Variant C-

The story: This is a fun book, though the beginning felt a little familiar. Mark Millar’s tale begins in 1993 at the Inter-School Polo Cup Final and the crowds have emptied, carrying the star player on their shoulders: eleven-year-old Edison Crane. Three of his teammates remain behind, glowering. In the locker room, he thanks them for allowing him on the team. One of the older boys locks the door and Edison is then hit by one of their mallets. “…You’ve humiliated us for the last time.” The three then beat him to the ground. At home, Edison watches videos of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Chia-Hui Liu. “I learn faster than anyone who’s ever lived, and there’s nothing I can’t do when I put my mind to it…By Monday morning it won’t just be polo I trounce them at.” And that’s exactly what happens. The story jumps forward a year to show that Crane is also skilled in particular science. Jumping to the present, Crane shows himself able to do more than one thing at the same time, with Millar showing him saving the Earth and winning a game. The final skill Crane demonstrates is suggested by a young student. Millar needs these pages to show his protagonist is smart, agile, fast, and deserving of an ego. These pages were fun, but reminded me of Buckaroo Banzai, but played more seriously. Page 17 introduces the premise and that’s when the book really takes off. Something bizarre happens on 19 with a freakish twist revealed on 20. Crane goes to investigate the weirdness, makes some astute observations, and ends the issue by meeting a new potential ally, Rachel Straks. This is a solid introduction to the lead and the premise. I want to see where Millar is going with this. Overall grade: A-

The art: Rafael Albuquerque is the reason I picked this up. I really enjoy his artwork and I want to see more of it. The opening page is a terrific start for the tween genius to be shown, lifted up by a joyful mob. The final panel on the page shows the trio of angry teammates that telegraphs what their next actions will obviously be. The first panel on the second page starts with Edison entering the locker room and notice how Albuquerque doesn’t have any of the other players’ faces clearly seen, visually foreshadowing their dark intentions. The final panel on the page is brutal, even though the protagonist isn’t shown. On the next page Edison is absolutely intense in the third panel, studying up for tomorrow’s fight. There’s a clever bit of parallelism right after it with Bruce Lee in almost the same pose as Crane. The bottom three panels on 4 are terrific and the third panel on 5 will elicit wows from readers, while Page 7 will elicit gasps — it got one out of me. Page 9 has some solid parallelism again, this time showing Crane contrasted against several foes in a different locale: very clever. The bottom panel on 11 is fantastic for its design and the contrasting imagery: it is a brilliant visual to tell the story. A full-paged splash occurs on 14 and it doesn’t really have any impact because the reader is too far from the action. Better are the first two panels on 15, though that latter one is again too far from the reader. This entire sequence seemed really stretched out. The introduction to two of Crane’s assistants is good with each looking very unique. The design of the vehicle on 19 is great, teasing Crane’s comments that occur later. The full-paged splash on 22 is much better because it clearly shows something to the reader. Rachel’s introduction is visually cool, with her makeup really making her eyes pop. The book ends on a full-paged splash that made me smile. Did that much space have to be devoted to that image? Not really. But the angle will remind the reader of television shot. Overall grade: A- 

The colors: Edison Crane is introduced to the reader in a tremendous wave of gold from the sun’s rays. This instantly gives the lead a god-like aura. Marcelo Maiolo has the young hero stand out with the intense red of his polo shirt, which works equally well with his angry teammates. I really like the fourth panel on Page 2 when a violent action occurs and colors leave the panel, save crimson, intensifying the action. The explosion of yellow that ends the page echoes a nuclear blast. Page 6 uses crimson backgrounds to tease the horror of what’s being seen and they return on 7 for the reader to focus on the gore. The blues on 9 and 10 neatly conveys the monitors’ screen. 11 uses shades of gold for the background to allow Crane in his blue suit and the item in red to really stand out. For the final action sequence yellows dominate due to the setting. Flashbacks are given a yellow tint to show they take place in the past. This is different from other comics that use a sepia to age the pages; I like Maiolo’s break from what’s common. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text by Peter Doherty employs scene settings and dialogue (the same font), one sound, yells, and three words that tease the next issue. I was disappointed that the same font is used for scene settings and dialogue. They need to be differed visually beyond the colors of the balloon or boxes that contain them. At least the yells are italicized to show the speaker’s stress. I was also taken aback that for all the actions in this book, only a door slam gets a sound. That must be one really loud door. Overall grade: B-

The final line: A solid introduction issue that has a prodigy demonstrating his abilities before coming upon a mystery. The story is fun and could go in any possible direction due to the talented protagonist. The visuals are beautiful, with both the characters and the settings looking cool. I’m ready for more. Overall grade: A-

To order a print copy go to https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/prodigy-1-of-6

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Prodigy-1/digital-comic/725942?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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