Abyss #1-4

Abyss #1 cover

Written by Kevin Rubio
Penciled by Lucas Marangon
Inked by Nick Schley
Colored by Andrew Dalhouse
Lettered by Troy Peteri

Eric Hoffman is having a bad month. First, his father dies. Then, he discovers that his father was secretly the notorious supervillain Abyss and is not actually dead, but merely in hiding while he coordinates a sinister plot against his arch-nemesis, the Arrow. The authorities think Eric is crazy. Can he stop his father's sinister revenge before it's too late?

I picked up the Abyss miniseries for a few reasons. First, I liked the logo, which has a nice classic look to it. The cover isn't any great shaeks, but the main character has a nice frantic look to him which seemed to promise madcap hilarity. And the blurb on the cover that says "by the creator of Star Wars: Tag and Bink" didn't hurt either.

Unfortunately, I had the same reaction to Abyss that I've had to other Red 5 comics — that it wasn't half-bad, but that it wasn't very good either. Rubio's story isn't hilarious, but it's not unfunny, either. Marangon's art isn't exciting or involving, but it's not dull or unreadable either. It's just mediocre.

Part of the problem is that the comic has a bit of a split personality. It wants to be a jokey comic where superheroes are a laughing matter — they drive around in a Prius because it gets great mileage, sell recalled action figures on eBay when they need money fast, are more frightened by bad publicity the threat of armageddon. At the same time, it also wants the stakes to seem high, for fight scenes to carry to potential for death or injury, for shadowy cabals to seem sinister even though they're composed of men in drag and afro wigs. It's not impossible to combine humor and high drama, but it usually requires you to firmly come down on one side or the other, which Rubio doesn't.

And yet, the series still has a certain charm. The characters are likeable enough, and the loony shenaningans could be appealing if they had a bit more bite. I wouldn't go out of my way for more Abyss comics but I wouldn't mind reading more either.

In fact, the only thing I didn't like at all was the coloring.

Abyss #2 p. 15

Abyss #2, p. 15

The style Marangon is using seems to cry out for some bright, cartoony coloring, not the standard superheroic coloring seen here, which makes the characters look less like cartoons than or Splitting Image puppets. I mean, geez, does the at drawing of Eric really look like it calls for a defined philtrum and upper lip? It's actively working at cross purposes to the art. (Well, except maybe in the case of the Arrow's ludicrously defined musculature.) A different coloring style — bold, colorful — might have helped set the tone for the rest of the book.

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