Bizarre New World #1-3 (Ape Entertainment)

bnwheaderWhat would really happen if an ordinary shlub gained the power to fly?



48 pgs. FC; $3.50 ea.

(W: Skipper Martin; A: Christopher Provencher; Colors & Letters: Wes Dzioba)


Imagine waking up one day and realizing that you could fly. How would you react? If comic books have taught us anything, it's that our natural reaction would be to put on a pair of tights and head out to fight crime. Most normal people, however, wouldn't do that. They might be scared by the danger and refuse to utilize their new ability, or maybe even reckless and headstrong, leaping into danger much too quickly. In Bizarre New World, a new book by Skipper Martin, Christopher Provencher and Wes Dzioba, the notion of the insanity of receiving the simplest superpower — flight — is explored in a funny, touching and ultimately ultra-realistic notion that makes it one of the most refreshing new comics to be released in quite some time.


Bizarre New World begins with a look at Paul Krutcher, our protagonist, who is the epitome of an average American. He works a decent job that he enjoys, but doesn't love. He's not in as good of shape as he'd like to be. He doesn't have all the answers. So when Paul, half asleep, realizes that he can fly, he reacts with skepticism and fear, as most people would. Paul doesn't immediately take off flying, soaring as high as possible, because he's not confident in his abilities. Even by the end of the book, he would never be mistaken for a superhero. Martin, the book's scribe, has done a great job of displaying Paul's everyman nature and true to life reactions. In terms of leading characters in a comic book, Paul is among the easiest yet to identify with, and it is his nature that makes the story so touching and down to earth. Paul's wide range of reactions to his newfound abilities (fear, joy, pride, paranoia) make it simple for anyone reading the story to project his emotions on themselves. As a result, even though Paul Krutcher is his own character, reading about him becomes very personal very quickly.


As well as Paul carries the story as the main character, the supporting cast in Bizarre New World is the strongest facet of the book. Martin uses the cast effectively to advance the plotlines and provide more background and depth about the main character. For example, issue #2 features an extended visit between Paul and his son in Arizona. While his son is used in a few touching moments to further Paul's good guy persona, at the same time, he is used to advance the plot. Unwilling to tell anyone what he's discovered, Paul asks his son 'theoretical' questions about his situation, using his creativity to help him safely test the limits of his power of flight without actually revealing his secret. While comics often over rely on the ability to view the innermost thoughts of their protagonists, it's a very refreshing change to see a character so realistically utilize his support system. This is shown even further as a result of the interaction between Paul and his coworkers at ADD, the video production company he works for. The strongest sequence of the three issues is when he proposes the idea of flight and his coworkers steal the show while trying to figure out how it could humanly be possible. They discuss physics without ever being too specific or technical, and provide a fair amount of Bizarre New World's laughs. The group actually feels like a supporting cast that could exist and help carry a book, as each character speaks and thinks very differently.


Christopher Provencher's art is generally very solid, although at times it can be a little sketchy and not entirely crisp. It seems to work very well with the book, however, as Provencher has a strong ability to demonstrate realistic facial expressions and body language. He also generally does a very nice job of making the characters seem unique through more than just hair color and clothing. In regards to art, the strongest scene takes place when Paul imagines the results of revealing his secret to the world. Most of the scene takes place within his mind, and the contrast between the real world and Krutcher's dreams is expertly displayed in the artwork. Provencher also has a knack for modeling and rendering scenery, causing each locale to seem very different in the book. This is augmented by Wes Dzioba's coloring, as it keeps a consistent theme throughout the book, but varies just enough from location to location to keep things interesting. Dioba's lettering is also of note, as unlike many books, Bizarre New World is blessed with absolutely professional quality lettering.


Assuming Bizarre New World continues, as it is not entirely clear, it has some room for improvement, most notably in terms of completeness. There are large parts in issues #1 and 3 with no actual dialogue or exposition. While the relative silence makes sense — Paul is alone — it makes those issues read very quickly and seem a bit lacking. The scenes in both issues show a strong but subtle sense of humor that Bizarre New World can be identified by, but they also take too long to get to the point. Even though the art tells the story adequately without dialogue, the writing is the strong point, so these scenes feel lacking. In addition, issue #2 features a backup story drawn by Tone Rodriguez of Violent Messiahs fame. While the story is well drawn, again, there's no dialogue or exposition, so as a result, it feels very tangential and superfluous. By the end of the book, the tie-in is clear, but when the story appears at the end of issue two, it doesn't quite make sense just yet. Finally, the pacing of the entire story feels a little uneven. At times, mostly during issue #2, it feels like the story is moving slowly and we are receiving mostly only characterization, which isn't a bad thing. However, issue #3 crams as much action into its last ten pages as the previous two issues combined. It doesn't harm the story too much, but it is certainly uneven.


The third issue absolutely changes the direction of the story in an odd way and provides some doubt for the rest of the series. The ending is certainly shocking and unexpected, but it potentially takes the book away from the direction that it was building immense momentum towards. The main concern that arises is simple — Martin and company leave it open ended whether or not Paul will remain the main character, and open ended whether or not the story will continue. Hopefully, neither is the case — Krutcher has been developed strongly and the book has produced three excellent issues. However, whatever this talented creative team does, they've earned the right to be trusted, as Bizarre New World is one of the more memorable, creative and interesting debuts in quite some time. | Brett Berliner


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