REVIEW: Conundrum #1

Written by Danny McLaughlin
Art by Michael Arbuthnot
Published by Uproar Comics

Conundrum takes place in an alternate timeline as we meet the Wilde family and the world fair run by the patriarch of the family. The fair contains many of the wonders of the world which the Wilde’s have acquired including exotic animals, and futuristic inventions. Think of it as a giant museum full of imagination and wonder. Sadly, the fair ends after the tragic death of Mr. Wilde at the hands of Zener, a super-powered serial killer. The wealth and assets of the Wilde family go to their attorney, and young Thomas Wilde is left alone and broken.

Jump forward to the future, and Thomas has grown into an adult distrustful of everyone but himself, and maybe his man-servant/monkey with whom he travels the world. His sole purpose has become to disprove that the Ubermensch, a super-powered man who gained his powers through nuclear experimentation at the beginning of the 20th century, is a god.

This book was really quite a joy to read. I love how imaginative and well-developed the world of Conundrum is. Part sci-fi and part steampunk, what writer Danny McLaughlin and artist Michael Arbuthnot have accomplished here is fascinating and really captures the imagination. The writing is strong and the characters well-developed though at times the dialogue does seem a little cheesy. That’s not to say it’s bad though, and I think with many of these characters it actually makes sense considering the time period the book takes place in.

The art is not something to which I am generally draw, and there are times where I certainly didn’t like it, but Arbuthnot’s character designs, vast environments, and well laid out pages certainly go a long way to make the art passable. He certainly pours a lot of emotion into the characters when needed, and Thomas and Zener seem to be particularly well fleshed out. Part of my issue with the art may be the choice of colors which contains a large amount of yellows that generally tend to bother me on the page. When the palette changes to darker shades, the art definitely seems to pop out more and gives a better sense of what’s going on.

Overall, this oversized first issue of Conundrum is quite an accomplishment and I look forward to seeing how the future of Thomas, Zener, and the Ubermensch become intertwined. If you love this type of steampunk-inspired story that serves as a throwback to early comics, then Conundrum #1 is certainly a book you should give a try.