Review: Avatarex #1

As an opening to a tale, Avatarex checks off all the right boxes. I'm invested in the futures of the few characters Grant Morrison introduces. I'm eager to learn more about how this universe functions. And there's an air of fairly easily resolved mystery hanging over the final panel. It is a very familiar story. Or, at least, it’s shaping up to appear familiar. However, it seems Morrison's goal with Avatarex is to shift recognizable tropes across cultures. In doing this Morrison is able to do what he does better than most others. He's known for dissecting and analyzing superhero fiction without dismantling it. Here, he appears to be playing with his readers' presumptions. The sheer amount of self-aggrandizing present throughout this issue heavy-handedly sets up our protagonist as one in desperate need of humbling. Just about every line of dialog is the definition of hubris. At times it feels like the book’s pompous hero Avatarex might begin groping himself, so deep is his absurd narcissism. We don't know who he is or under whose authority he operates. The book presents Avatarex as a great force by conspicuously telling with very little showing. He's isolated, an individual certainly possessing more power than mere humans, but we don't know how he stacks up against others of his kind, though it's mentioned in passing that other such beings exist. I wonder if any of Avatarex's confidence is deserved. How will he react to inevitably being brought low? Is it as inevitable as it seems?

Avatarex-#1-1Jeevan J. Kang's art, despite a few sequential hiccups, is fantastic. Given how little variety there is in the script's settings, Kang works wonders. Our strutting protagonist is surrounded by cold machinery, warm techno gardens fill with crystalline lotuses, and the indifferent expanse of infinite space.  They’re all beautiful in their way. Avatarex occupies each of these environments with little interest beyond how they serve to glorify his ego. The way he slides through each panel echoes his grace and strength, convincing you he is at least partially as amazing as he sees himself.

Morrison's story could prove interesting moving forward partly because it doesn't show it hand too early. The brief glimpse of action is reserved. Our view into humanity is fleeting, but effective. While the bulk of issue one focuses on amazing sights, it is clearly the setup for something much grander. Your satisfaction with this issue may not match your curiosity for future installments. In other words, this intriguing beginning may only be that -- a beginning with an uncertain payoff.

Score: 3/5

Avatarex #1 Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Jeevan J. Kang Colorist: Jeevan J. Kang and NS Sathish Kumar Publisher: Graphic India Price: $1.99 Release Date: 7/20/16 Format: Print/Digital