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Welcome to another review! This time we're going to try something a bit different. For those of you that want the short and skinny: Score, summary of thoughts on the book. We have that for you. If you're looking for a more in depth review that sums up the story and talks about the different components of the issue, then fear not... we have that too! So enjoy the review and feel free to let us know if you like the new review format.
The Short Version
A competent story that borrows heavily from established comic archetypes and uses that familiarity to tell a strong story. The collaboration of writers makes for a strong cohesion, but is largely overpowered by the art style.
The Long Version
Marc Guggenheim (the man responsible for Wolverine coming back to life from his own blood) teams up with first time writer Tara Butters to create yet another super-hero book. The story begins in the Middle East as "Jarhead" the super soldier has been sent to find Bin Laden. He easily tears apart the religious fanatics that seem to have all but given up on fighting. After practically killing all of the reluctant soldiers, he discovers that Bin Laden's own men had killed him three days prior.
Enter Oculus, a Cobra Commander/Doctor Doom type villain that is watching Jarhead from a super-villain safe haven. The haven rests in an alternate reality (tip of the hat to DC), and is occupied by other Oculus' from different realities. Apparently they all hang out with each other as they work towards the goal of world domination. Oculus from 2439-Gamma comes to wish Oculus (reality not given) fair well. He informs him that a much smarter Oculus has predicted his departure and said that he will never return to the haven.
Afterwards, we flash around (there's a pun I'm building towards) and meet different heroes that all seem pretty straight forward. There's the Batman/Punisher type found in Sabre, the Superman/Wonder Woman type found in Zenith and of course the Flash-esc character found in Transom. The three of them (and a few others) make up the Halcyon, which as you can guess make up a JLA/Avengers type team.
The heart of the story, the interest of the story is that crime is down... world-wide. People are being nicer to each other and not just the general populace, but the villains and heroes too. This is bad for the super-hero business which needs villains, needs crime in order to continue. As the team begins the thought process of figuring out who would do such a thing, Oculus turns himself in to the Swiss authorities.
The characters presented in the book are... generic at best. They each have a unique enough personality for readers not to scream out there obvious inspirations, but really haven't been given enough time to become their own. Really the story comes second to the art of the book. If the action didn't span for more than half of the issue I'm sure there would have been plenty of chances to convince the reader that Sabre wasn't a typical anti-hero. Thankfully that didn't happen.
The strongest element of Halcyon is the art. Hands down Ryan Bodenheim (A Red Mass for Mars – Read this book!), makes the book worth reading. The amount of detail poured into each panel makes it breath taking too gaze upon, but mostly makes you forget about the cut and paste characters presented. In fact the art was so good I couldn't even remember the damn characters names. Jarhead? Gee someone was really trying with that one! Bodenheim's pencils are so perfect that the he doesn't even need a colorist. He has one and thankfully he's talented as well. Colorist Mark Englert (Invincible, Hack/Slash) fills the world with dulled greens and grays that basically fit the mood and feel of the book.
I go out of my way to point out how generic the foundation of the story and characters is, but when it really boils down to it... I liked this book. I enjoyed the concept of everyone getting nicer and how heroes felt that there was something bad that they needed to solve. It hooked me in, that's for sure. Add the fact that the art is some of the best in comics today and you have a solid and enticing comic experience.
Story – 7.5
Plot – 8.5
Art – 10.0
Color – 9.5
Overall – 8.9