"INCARNATE" IS proof positive that first impressions aren't always accurate.
Indeed, when Comics Guy first glanced at the new Radical Comics offering, the story did not seem all that original, the art appeared to be closer to the traditional style one would expect from Marvel and DC - rather than the realistic, cinematic art most of the company's line is known for. The whole point of the project seemed to be to exploit the name of its creator and penciler, Nick Simmons, son of KISS rock legend Gene Simmons.
However, once Comics Guy actually read "Incarnate," he was pleasantly surprised.
Because, while the idea of a being who cannot die is not original, the way Simmons portrays Mot - the series' star - is a bit edgy.
Mot is a boy who cannot die. He has been riddled with bullets, burned at the stake, doused with napalm and hung from a gallows - and still walked away.
Though he has wandered the world for centuries, Mot's youthful appearance is not only disarming to his enemies but also symbolic of the way he acts.
Impulsive and immature, Mot is the kind of guy who will shoot another immortal in the face for kicks so he can make a joke about his target's appearance afterward.
Mot continues to search for meaning in a life without the possible release that death provides. As a result, he sees no meaning in life itself and it doesn't bother him one bit to kill humans - he justifies his coldness by noting how so many humans kill each other. The only thing that bothers him is that his hunger for human flesh causes him to kill humans even when he doesn't want to.
Another reason why Mot has little moral grounding is that his origin is a mystery. He has been worshipped as a god, feared as a monster and scorned as a devil while living in plain sight. The ironic thing is that not only do others struggle to define him, but he still has trouble describing himself.
Yet, the combination of not knowing how he came to be and never facing anyone he has had to truly fear, combined with knowing his life will never end, has made him impulsive and narcissistic to the extreme.
The idea that he could die is absurd to him, a metaphor for how the young view themselves as invincible.
Note to President Obama: Just TRY to get Mot to purchase health insurance.
When Mot hears a shadow group called the Sanctum has found a way to kill the immortals - Mot included - he lets out a laugh that would chill the Joker.
When they demonstrate that they mean business, Mot slices and dices them with such efficiency and glee it would make Wolverine jealous.
As the war escalates, Mot realizes he does not identify with either side, which makes his ensuing actions even more unpredictable.
Though the story is complicated, it is an excellent introduction to all the main characters. Simmons writes and draws them in a way that makes everyone compellingly fresh and unique.
While it would be fair to say this three-issue arc isn't bursting at the seams with depth, character development or psychological profiles, it is also fair to say Simmons is just scratching the surface with these characters and that the tale he has cooked up is good, action-packed, bloody fun.
'Big plans' for 'Incarnate'
Nick Simmons says that if the demand is there (and early sales numbers indicate it is), "Incarnate" will be the first of many tales he tells with these characters.
"I have really big plans for it in the future, for all the characters," Simmons told Comics Guy. "One thing that needs to be made clear, though, is that it's not a horror book. The way I describe it, the differences between my book and a horror book is the same as the difference between the movies 'Saw' and 'Blade.' One's a horror film. One is - for the most part - an action film. Both are very, very bloody, both have elements of horror and both are names of sharp cutting instruments. But they're two very different sorts of films."
Part of the reason Simmons chose Radical is that it was willing to break with conventional comic industry thinking and give him the amount of pages he felt he needed to tell his story. So issue No. 1 was 56 pages; issue No. 2 was 52 pages and issue No. 3 will be 64 pages. As part of Radical's "Bigger Books! Bigger Value!" campaign, all three issues are $4.99.
Zenescope's sci-fi shift
Zenescope's new titles for next year indicate a strong shift toward sci-fi, rather than a reliance on the horror titles the company is known for. Zenescope Vice-President Ralph Tedesco told Comics Guy why.
"The strategy is fairly simple: We write what we like," he said. "I'm a fan of horror and sci-fi films and while writing comics is writing, it is still very related to screenplay writing, so it's pretty natural for us to focus on the genres we love."
"Comedy is the first choice, but comedic comic books are a tough sell in this industry," he said. "Horror and sci-fi geared to adult readers is something we set out to do as a company and we want to expand into even more genres as we go. We also like to mix genres on occasion and will continue to do that if it works. But we will continue to come out with horror titles even with this current shift to sci-fi."
Quote of the week
"I was thrilled to get my first job at Marvel! Had a great day . . . then got letters from other Marvel editors saying I'd never work for them."
- Todd McFarlane (@Todd_McFarlane) Twittering about how he was "welcomed" at Marvel - uh, not so much.