Friday, April 1, 2016

Review - Power Lines #1 (@ImageComics)

"The ancient power lines were never rediscovered...until now."

Ancient powers have a tendency to lie dormant until the appropriate time, at which point they awaken in individuals and lead to general chaos. Those individuals can manage to find one another in the world, at which point they can set aside their differences for the sake of better understanding what's going on. Image Comics explores that dynamic in Power Lines #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Jimmie Robinson.

A local street hood surviving in a crime-infested ghetto has his life turned around when an ancient magic grants him superhuman powers—except his ability only activates in an upscale white community that may not accept him. Gritty, racially charged street-wise drama!

Underneath the social commentary, Robinson is hatching a story with roots in the spiritual. D-Trick is a somewhat reluctant gang member who essentially falls into the trap of youth, but Robinson gives him something a little more that also propels the story forward. And that's what makes Power Lines #1 really work, in that Robinson works to subvert the aforementioned social commentary by mixing together individuals who normally would have very little to do with one another. The first issue works well to establish the tone of the book and the way characters interact with one another, as Robinson brings them together in a way that makes real world sense. The more spiritual aspects do seem to fall a little flat, only because they seem forced within the context of the rest of the issue--although it's likely that Robinson has something in mind.

The artwork boasts a style that feels detached from the reader in a way. Robinson's characters live in the panels and the world of Power Lines #1, but at the same time there's a separation between them and the scenery. The blackened gutters further embolden this effect, giving each panel its own standing amidst the surrounding panels. Generally speaking, the characters are illustrated with physical heft to them, yet Robinson does seem to struggle with facial expressions here and there. And the book trades mainly in the primary colors, with reds, greens and blues pervasive throughout.

Power Lines #1 is a subtle first issue that blends together societal issues with something more supernatural. The premise of characters with abilities finding one another certainly isn't unique, but the series seems to want to approach it more from an X-Men angle than anything else. Robinson's script moves along briskly and is effective at setting up the players and stakes. His artwork is simple yet effective in detailing the tale unfolding front of the characters and reader. Power Lines #1 will likely get more interesting as it progresses and watching the characters interact from disparate backgrounds against a mythical concept will be fun.

Power Lines #1 is in stores now.


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