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Brain Boy #1 Review
By Zak Edwards
September 18, 2013 - 23:07

Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Fred Van Lente
Penciller(s): R.B Silva
Inker(s): Rob Lean
Colourist(s): Ego
Letterer(s): Nate Piekos
Cover Artist(s): Ariel Olivetti, variant by Juan Doe
$2.99 US

If I were to describe Brain Boy in a single sentence, it would be “A perfect example of how a fictional character can take over a creation, and exactly what happens when they do.”  Unfortunately, this isn’t as meta as some may be hoping.  No, I’m merely referring to a character who is so narcissistic that his own book becomes filled with his every thought to the point where any story becomes secondary to his constant monologuing.  In a way, it makes the over-exposition of writer Fred Van Lente’s script all the better, but it does border on simply annoying.  In contrast to Dark Horse’s other #1 issue this week, Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde, Brain Boy’s world building is, like its protagonist, enjoyable to the point of nearly unbearable.

Something I learned in university was how density does not mean better or more intelligent writing.  Instead, that style means the writing makes readers disinterested and generally bewildered, you have to become a pretty well-respected thinker to get away with it.  In Brain Boy, this idea about density pushes the limits of what makes a book interesting and, in many ways, this issue feels less like a first issue and more like a condensed first half of a mini-series.  Main character Matt Price, with his titular pejorative (see what I mean?), is a telepath who loves snooping around.  At one point, he compares his casual mental spying to “speed metal and talk radio had a dirty love child that snorts adrenaline,” one of many throwaway lines that keeps readers interested.  Then again, statistically the issue has to have some enjoyable lines based solely on the amount of exposition.  But the series takes this speed metal and talk radio baby and runs with it.  Panels and pages constantly move around, referencing multiple points of the story in a barely cohesive ADHD telepathic narration.  By being so close to the source of all this pandemonium, the story at once benefits and stumbles.  If Resident Alien builds through familiarity and simplicity, Brain Boy front loads its story with a smattering of information that, quite purposefully I think, jars readers.  It’s an enjoyable read, Matt Price happens to be an interesting character in an interesting world, but it also feels like the series simply can’t sustain itself.  That in itself warrants reading the next issue.

The entire art team matches Matt Price’s intensity.  Penciller R.B Silva has a cartoonish style, every character becomes what Price sees: more ideas of characters than people in and of themselves.  This may speak to broad characterization, but given our unreliable narrator, they seem to be given less a chance to establish themselves.  Price is disinterested and thus readers are kept in the dark.  The colours play into this cartoony approach, everything is bright and colourful and pleasing to look at in its intensity.  Overall, the script mirrors the art and vice versa.  So while the book and main character are a bit of a mess, it’s a mess I want to keep reading.

Grade: 7/10    A giant jerk of a protagonist derails this book in the best ways possible.

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