Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bizarre New World Population Explosion

Reviewed by Chris Buchner

Bizarre New World: Population Explosion is the follow-up to last year’s mini-series Bizarre New World by Ape Entertainment. For those who might have missed it, here’s the meat and bones of the tale:

Paul Krutcher was an average man leading an average life until the day he suddenly and mysteriously gained the ability to fly. Fearing what the reaction to his ability might be, Paul decided to keep it a secret while at the same time learning all he could about his ability through practice and research. Then, one day, someone named Matthew appeared on the scene also with the ability to fly, except unlike Paul he went public and gained instant fame and awe. But, that was short lived as suddenly people everywhere started taking to the sky.

Population Explosion takes place during the first 24 hours of humankind’s discovery that their world has changed forever. As everyone flops around in the air about as gracefully as Paul did upon his initial discovery, Paul’s frustration of no longer being unique or recognition as the first gets interrupted by a frantic phone call from his son Sean who lives in Arizona with his ex-wife. Now Paul must get to his son as quickly as possible while navigating through this bizarre new world.

Much like the first mini-series, this edition was an enjoyable read. The story is firmly grounded in reality enough to balance out the fantastic and make it seem like it could actually one day happen (however, I recommend not trying to jump off your garage just yet). One of the ingenious aspects of Skipper Martin’s script is he takes his own research into the topic of flight and transcribes it word for word within the pages of the book. This adds a lot of credibility to the story, and the methods Paul uses to fly. It also provides a little education for the reader. A bonus in this issue is it allowed Skipper to give his character a costume of sorts. The character interactions are believable and there are a few funny moments that play out that you can believe will really happen. There’s a firm grasp of human behavior present here.

Christopher Provencher’s pencils are once again nicely complimented by Wes Dzioba’s colors. The style adds to that realistic, grounded feel the story goes for while keeping it light and fun. And just like the first go around, the scenes using landscape are breathtakingly beautiful. Tone Rodriguez’s contribution as cover artist this time around blends in with Provencher’s artwork perfectly, and the second Superman homage in this series was nicely done (the first being the variant cover for Bizarre #1 parodying the cover to Superman #1).

The only negative I can see with this story is the pacing. After the phone call, we see traces of the frantic panic that would befall any father when his kid is in trouble. However, the pacing of the book from that point on didn’t quite invoke that feeling. Also, the conversation in the diner towards the end felt a little out of place. Perhaps it was better left towards the end of the book as it makes sense within the context of the story, but again, that pacing.

Overall, another solid effort by this crew and Ape Entertainment. The story is as informative and thought provoking while being fun and light as the mini-series with the artwork to back it up. It’s not about heroes in tights like most comics; it’s about an ordinary man who discovers one day he has an incredible ability and his journey in trying to figure out how to deal with it. The mini-series dealt with that discovery, and this issue continues that journey. This is a recommended read for anyone who has ever wanted to fly, or just wants to experience as fresh a comic as you can get in today’s marketplace. And, with another open ending with a promised third chapter in this saga to come, the ride isn’t over yet. You’ll still believe that a man can fly.

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