This probably doesn’t surprise my fellow NBC! staff members or frequent readers, but this week’s finest goes to an Image #1 with Jeff Lemire’s name on the cover. Jeff Lemire is absolutely brilliant at a few things and they are all things that make a #1 issue stand out. Lemire has a seemingly effortless talent to make the reader feel like they are a part of the story, especially in his first issues. The most recent works that come to mind are Descender, Trillium, Sweet Tooth and Underwater Welder. What all these stories have in common are impeccable world building and compelling characters. Lemire can create not just interesting characters that I want to spend more time with, but characters that I already care about. Plutona is a book where the characters drive the story in a familiar yet unknown world. Lemire frames the perfect door to this interesting world, all you have to do is walk through.
Plutona centers around 4 preteen children who are all well represented in the first issue. Although the story may seem familiar because of classic junior high tropes, Lemire does enough with the characters to break the cookie cutter molds and make them feel like real people. The classic roles for junior high kids to fall into would be; jock, princess, outcast, rebel and nerd. However, Lemire works with these classic roles and forms his own. Let’s meet the kids from left to right.
Diane, “The Wanna-be” – Best friend of Mie. Let’s Mie walk all over her because of her insecurities.
Mie, “Too cool for school” – Mie is a spoiled brat who is not considerate of others.
Mike, “In the way” – The younger brother of Mie. He is the tagalong who is always in the way.
Ray, “The Rebel” – Ray has a tough home life and because of it is rough around the edges. He will make fun of you but always seems to want to hang out.
Teddy, “The Nerd” – Teddy runs a capespotting blog. He catalogues all siting of superheroes.
There is a big event that brings these five kids together, in a Breakfast Club kind of way, except it is more adventurous like Super 8. The world that they live in is the interesting part. These kids live in a world where superheroes exists and keep the city safe. However, they make sure to stay away from the public eye. Teddy is a capespotter. Meaning he watches the sky after school and records any of his findings on a blog which then gets cross referenced and correlated with other capespotters so they can figure out what superhero saved the day. He has a notebook filled with stats and sightings of each superhero.
Lemire has a way of making me care about his characters no matter what side of the tracks they grew up on. All these children are vastly different but all have a special place and play their part in the story. Which brings us to the wonderful work of Emi Lenox. I do not know much about Emi Lenox. I have seen her name a few times on some issues I have read in the past. I believe she pencilled an issue of Sweet Tooth for Jeff Lemire. I’m hoping to see a lot more of her. Emi thrives at expressive characters in this book. She is given preteen to teenage children, all with vastly different personalities and tasked with the job of bringing them to life. Her work shines in the facial expressions. The cartoony characters take on their roles and tell me everything I need to know in their expressive nature. Emi does a terrific job on this issue.
I can’t leave the review without mentioning Jodie Bellaire. Manhattan Projects, Moon Knight, Rebels, The Massive, Cluster, Injection, Captain Marvel, Zero, Flash Gordon, Mara, Nowhere Men, Comeback, The Surface, Change, Wytches, The Wake, Young Avengers. Those are some of the titles that Jodie Bellaire has coloured in the past. The colors on Plutona are beautiful. The second panel of the book is a beautiful sunrise that paints the scene of a tiny community, the perfect tool for the beginning of this books fantastic world building. Also, the final panel is staged in a dark woods. Difficult to make an image of kids in a spooky woods pop off the page, but Bellaire mixes an eerie backdrop with a misty foreground to make every character uniquely noticeable. Bellaire is a star on this book and should not go unmentioned.
Finally, my favourite part of the book is after the final page turn of the main story. The back matter contains a short comic written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire with the same title but about the superhero “Plutona”. It aids in the character development and world building as we get to see the other side of the world, the superhero side. It is not just a fun little bonus in the back of the book, it is a great addition to this already fantastic beginning.
Pick up Plutona #1 this week, it’s the finest in the land.