Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, May 27, 2006
      ( 5/27/2006 08:29:00 AM ) Bill S.  

ORIGAMI SWANS – The ad for Boom! Studio's newest Talent state that the series is "in the vein of ABC TV's Lost," and, like the teleseries, Christopher Golden & Tom Sniegoski's script opens with a mysterious plane crash. Instead of landing in on a sun-drenched tropical isle, though, the plane drops into the Atlantic Ocean where all but one of the passengers – average guy English professor ("and not even a very good one") Nicholas Dane – drown. Dane, puzzlingly, is able to survive underwater while trapped in his seat over twelve hours, a fact that leads the authorities into wondering whether he was part of a terrorist conspiracy to bring down the plane. They bring in an investigator named Krause who also, we learn, has ties to a sinister Cardinal named Montague who thinks nothing of ordering assassinations over the phone. (Better keep the Da-Vinci-Code-Is-Blasphemy crowd away from this title!) Turns out our hero is on the Cardinal's Hit List, but, fortunately, the same abilities that kept him alive underwater also send him visions of a Woman in White warning him of impending danger – and he's also managed to absorb the memories and abilities of every other passenger on the plane. Dane can slug like a champion prizefighter and fold paper animals (an image that appears several times in the first ish) where before these talents eluded him.

Even this doesn't 'splain how he's able to hold his breath for twelve hours, of course, so there's obviously much more to the story. But Golden & Sniegoski manage to hold our attention with just enough promising conspiratorial info and paranormal hi-jinks to kick-start their story. One tantalizing nugget: our hero, while being interviewed by Krause, suddenly flashes on someone's memory of the investigator sitting behind the desk. So who on the plane knew the double-dealing agent? Was it the person responsible for the downing of Flight 654? Or was their presence on the plane the reason it was downed?

I'm guessing it'll be a few issues before we get an answer to that 'un (though not as long, one suspects, as it takes to get any of the big Lost queries answered), but if the book continues to zip along as entertainingly as its first issue, this reader will have no objections. Paul Azaceta's art has a suitably dark Toth-like feel to it, though at times he makes his characters look a bit too stone-faced (apt, I suppose, when dealing with the blank slate character who is our hero). Needs a little work in the pugilism scenes, though, which he wisely lays out in smaller panels to lessen their awkwardness. I like the way he handles the more foreboding moments, in particular, but I have to admit it took extensive examination for me to recognize that the object the Woman in White was holding up to her mouth in one panel was, in fact, the hero's bruised hand.

At heart, a superhero series tinged with elements of Medium/The Ghost Whisperer, Talent is a potential-packed actioner. As a publishing line, Boom! is definitely taking advantage of its position as relatively new kid on the block to provide readers with a strong set of entertainments unencumbered by decades of company-imposed rules. Precisely what we look for in a small comic book line – and oh too rarely get.
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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