Review - 24: Underground #1

Jack Bauer is one television's most enduring and recognizable heroes. He was the man who stopped at nothing to protect his country and the freedoms that came along, even if it meant committing acts of treason, torture and murder. He's probably the epitome of the anti-hero and the character gets a renewed lease on life with the show revamp this May. On the comic side of things, IDW is publishing a lead-up to that miniseries in 24: Underground #1. The issue is written by Ed Brisson, illustrated by Michael Gaydos, colored by Josh Burcham and lettered by Shawn Lee.

Under the name Borys, Jack Bauer is trying to find a life in Odessa, Ukraine. He's got a good job at the docks, a love in Sofiya and also happens to be on the run from the FBI, CIA and CTU. Despite that, he still feels the need to be a hero, helping his girlfriend's brother Petro out of a sticky situation caused by his brothers debts to rather unsavory people. Jack seems to offer up what's expected, but it turns out that he's not as unrecognizable as he'd like to be.

24: Underground #1 feels a little tired. It might have something to do with the fatigue from eight seasons of 24, where just about every season had a few things that you would expect: major terrorist plot, mole in CTU and Jack Bauer. 24: Underground #1 feels especially familiar because it's almost an exact copy of the fifth season of the show, where Jack presumed a new identity (Frank), had a love and a manual labor job and yet still managed to reveal his abilities in a desire to help someone out. Brisson is a solid writer and tries to keep things moving along, but fans of the show will likely recognize everything in the book; even to the point where things somewhat predictable. The pacing feels like an hour condensed into 24 pages and Jack is characterized in a way that's very true to form for him.

Artistically, there's a lot of vagueness in the illustrations. Gaydos relies on bold character outlines with little detail in between, as well as pretty minimal settings. There's a lot of cross-hatching and the book looks as if it was done in colored pencil, which isn't really bad, but doesn't really give the reader a lot go to on in terms of where Jack is. His style would definitely be a better fit for other comics, but doesn't quite seem to be the right style for a book like this, where it's important to show settings and distinguish characters a bit more. One thing is for certain though: Gaydos definitely has a handle on making comic book Bauer look like Kiefer Sutherland.

24: Underground #1 is a book that's poised to lead up to the upcoming miniseries set to debut on Fox in a few weeks and it does feel like an extension of the show. The problem is that the show got a little tired toward the end and the comic doesn't really tread any new ground from a story standpoint. Brisson does a good job showcasing Bauer as a bad, bad man, but it feels like Bauer's gone down this road before. Gaydos' art is solid, but doesn't really feel like the right style for a book cloaked in espionage and terrorism. Diehard fans of 24: Underground #1 will want to read it because it's more of what they love, while new fans may also be intrigued by the book because it shows them who Jack Bauer is.

24 Underground #1 is available now