Poison Candy Vol. 1 (Tokyopop)

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This tale of teens cursed with a virus that causes superpowers bears a passing resemblance to the X-Men, but in the hands of former X-scribe David Hine that's not necessarily a bad thing.

 

 

192 pgs. B&W;  $9.99

(W: David Hine; A: Hans "Hanzo" Steinbach)

 

 

Poison Candy is an Original English Language(OEL) manga by David Hine and Hans "Hanzo" Steinbach, two men who definitely wear their Western influences on their sleeves: Steinbach is best known for his undead goth metal pastiche A Midnight Opera, and Hine for his work with Marvel's X-Men line of titles (which includes stints writing District X, X-Men: The 198, and Civil War: X-Men). The wide-ranging influence of Marvel's merry mutants is clearly felt in Poison Candy Vol. 1.

 

The cover to Poison Candy Vol. 1. Click thumbnail for a larger image.The story so far centers around the effects of the South Korean Adolescent Retrovirus (SKAR), a deadly, incurable disease that has gone global. Once contracted, the SKAR virus allows teenagers to express their latent paranormal abilities (including energy projection, super-strength, telepathy, and other powers familiar to X-Men readers). In the process, however, those affected by the SKAR virus die a rapid and agonizing death. During the course of Vol. 1, readers are introduced to Sam, Poison Candy's erstwhile protagonist. A typical rebellious, hormonally overactive teenage boy, Sam is devastated to learn that he's contracted SKAR. He's even more confused when a mysterious crow-toting scientist named Henry Raven, a.k.a. the C.E.O. of the international video game corporation Elektroactive, offers to cryogenically preserve his body until a cure for SKAR can be found.

 

Of course, in the land of sci-fi, cryogenic preservation naturally means Sam's going to wake up in the far future-specifically, more than 100 years in the future. His virus has been stabilized, allowing him to retain his powers, his youth, and his health, and needless to say, countless adventures undoubtedly await him once he gets over the fact that everyone he cared about in his former life is long dead and buried. Hine's decision to introduce a whole cast of characters, then kill them off in one fell futuristic swoop, is well-handled. Because readers find themselves caring about Donna, Yusuf, and Sam's other non-SKAR infected friends, it's genuinely moving and empty when Sam discovers that they're all dead.

 

While the premise of Poison Candy is more than a little predictable to anyone who's paid any attention to sci-fi, the execution keeps things interesting. Steinbach's jagged, fractured drawing style lends itself well to ultraviolent battle sequences between Sam and hostile federal agents, and he handles sex and murder with an even, non-gratuitous hand. It's hard to say where Hine's scenario will go from here, but if he overcomes his obvious creative debt to Marvel and focuses on the real intrigue-the idea of superpowered 21st century teenagers forced to deal with life in the far-flung future-Poison Candy could be pretty sweet. | J. Bowers

Click here for a preview of Poison Candy, courtesy of Tokyopop!

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