Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review -- THE ILLEGITIMATES #1

The Illegitimates #1

(Marc Andreyko / Taran Killam / Kevin Sharpe / Diana Greenhalgh / Peter Pantazis; IDW)
2.5 stars
This is a comic that is all about premise. There is not much to it otherwise. The question becomes then, I guess, is premise enough for a critic like myself to declare something “good”? This, of course, brings up questions about the nature of criticism itself, as well as an even larger can of worms concerning what, itself, is “good”. But I'm wondering if a review of IDW's The Illegitimates #1 is really the platform for such a discussion? This strikes me as neither the time nor the place for this larger  discourse.
Instead, let's talk about premise. The Merriam-Webster definition of the term is “proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference; specifically : either of the first two propositions of a syllogism from which the conclusion is drawn.” It is, in a nutshell, the “IF” to the “THEN” of the cause and effect relationship. Premise is all about Idea, and Idea is the fecund ooze from which all art arises; it's the single celled organism about to evolve through evolutionary action. As my fellow reviewer Justin Giampaoli has never said, “A sandwich is a premise, while a Banh Mi is its fruition.

Illegitimates #1
So what is the premise of The Illegitimates? IDW has this solicitation:
Jack Steele: World renowned agent of OLYMPUS, super-spy, debonair, lover of ladies, man-slut. While facing off with his arch-nemesis, Viktor Dannikor, Steele faces his biggest defeat, but who will take his place? Olympus scrambles to find not one, but FIVE newbie agents to fill the void and, unbeknownst to them, they share a common thread. Can these five strangers embrace their fates and come together to save the world? They are THE ILLEGITIMATES! And if you called them bastards.... you'd be absolutely right!
Yea so, the premise is that there's this James Bond like character who has, through the course of his storied career, been bedding down all sorts of lovely ladies. The natural outcome of such behavior is to leave behind a string of illegitimate children. In this book, these children have each genetically inherited one of the aspects of their absent father's super spy skills. When Daddy dies, the government recruits five of them to fill the gap.  Writers Marc Andreyko and Taran Killam spend this first issue explaining just that, in the broadest strokes possible, leaving out things like character development or motivation or, well, traditional plot.
Like I said, this is all about premise.
Illegitimates #1
As a comic, there's not a whole lot to talk about. It seems like this whole bit could have been summarized in a page or two instead of a full length issue. This sort of decompression doesn't necessarily bode well for the longer story. If it takes this many pages just for set-up, how many issues will it take to complete the first arc?
As there isn't much to this issue other than premise, I find it very difficult to fulfill my role as a critic and make an assessment as to whether it is “good” or not. The Illegitimates #1 just kind of “is”, you know? It's a book that, in a way, defies critical analysis, which, in and of itself, is a rather interesting premise too now that I think about it.
Illegitimates #1
But this is Singles Going Steady and these are supposed to be short reviews of new comics. So I'm going to derail that train of thought for now, do my job, and make my pronouncements.
I guess I could say that The Illegitimates #1 is a “good” premise. Now about that Banh Mi, Giampaoli....

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