REVIEW: The Normals #6

There are times when I start a review that I know that I’m walking straight into an oncoming shit-storm. It’s not pleasant and it’s not enjoyable but if you want to be honest with your critiques as a reviewer then you have to grit your teeth and get ready to take your brow-beatings.

I really liked this issue. (That’s not the shit-storm) What I dislike about this comic is that this is a chapter that was obviously written for an eventual graphic novel release and the creators didn’t care enough to take the time to give me a single clue as to what was happening before I started reading. (Here is the shit-storm)

This is the first issue of this series that I picked up and when there is no introduction to the plot or characters… well, as a reader you’re being thrown in the deep end of the pool and told to swim instantly. It removes all enjoyment of the book and becomes a tedious chore to try to figure out who is who and what is what. There is also the fact that this story reads lightening quick. The comic seemed to be over just a minute after opening it.

The reason that this is such a hurdle for a title like this is that I was hooked by the action straightaway. There is gunplay and hostages and pets being placed in danger. Its compelling, but I had no idea who/what/where/why/how any of what I was reading mattered. It’s like walking into a movie that is three-quarters over. Unless you have been present for the rest of the story the climax loses its punch.

I wasn’t sure of the relationship between any of the characters until a third or maybe halfway through the issue, and still I wasn’t 100% sure I had all of my relationships and connections straight. I’m still not sure about the plot twist at the end.

So the family is all robots? Are they Cyborgs? Are they Intelligent A.I.? I’m still not sure that I’m up-to-speed on the details.

From what I could gather from reading this issue is that Jack and his family are on the run from an evil corporation that wants to capture them and deactivate them. They encounter a lone gunman that wants to take them out and a standoff ensues. What happens next is a resolution of that stand-off and the feeling that this series is moving on to its next story-arc.

The art, while dynamic and crisp, lacks backgrounds in to many panels and relies on the same panel/background design over and over. It’s almost a hybrid of the action lines used in manga/anime to denote movement or speed. It’s extremely distracting once you notice it and takes away from the artwork overall. I can say with confidence that the colorist on this book hindered the artist by using too many lighting tricks where the background “glows” or is supposed to be back-lit, but instead it makes the artwork look washed out. There are a couple of panels that are lit in a way that it made my eyes hurt. Too bright!

Between all of these gripes is a good story. I still want to read more, even with a high bar of entry into the series. I found it action packed and compelling. While I would suggest that the creators take some more time in considering the readers over-all experience, they have crafted an interesting comic book. The editor might need to step in and guide this team, but Aftershock has a solid series on their hands; they just need to fine tune it.

Final Score: 2 ½ out of 5 robots

The Normals #6

Story: Adam Glass
Art: Dennis Calero
Colors: Adriano Augusto
Letters: Corey Breen
Publisher: Aftershock

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