At first glance you’d never guess that Binary Gray is a superhero title, but in a lot of ways it is. Or more accurately, it’s a story that takes place in a world populated by superheroes. The superhero genre dominates the comic book industry and so when an independent creator comes along with a new superhero themed title, the challenge is for the creator to present something new and different rather than their homage or offer their “take” on a familiar character trope. In some ways this series does look and feel like other superhero comics you’re more familiar with, but I found its presentation to be the real reason it was entertaining and worth reading. Alex Gray wakes up after we’re walked through his reoccurring nightmare. At least once a week Alex dreams of his father’s death, which was the result of a superhero battle. He blames himself all these years later even though his mother and therapist have told him to move on. Even though he was obsessed with superheroes as a boy he grew up to be just a computer geek, working in the IT department for a faceless corporation. His day is filled with moronic questions and fixing mistakes caused by sheer laziness. While working in the server room Alex is electrocuted and wakes up with the power to communicated with electronics through physical contact, visualize network interfaces and his brain also acts like a hard drive.
He wakes up in the hospital and the heart rate machine begins talking to him which scares the hell out of him. In typical comic book fashion, he checks himself out and heads home. The next day he thinks about going to work, but decides to take a day considering he was electrocuted. He begins checking out his powers quite accidently as the TV turns on just from him picking up the remote. When Alex does return to work he finds that his new powers make his job a breeze and what once took his entire day to do is now done in seconds. As his confidence grows his desire to do something more with his abilities also grows and he decides to hunt down the super villain that’s responsible for his father’s death… Scaldron.
The pacing for all four issues is terrific, I was able to breeze through them one after the other and not because there was a lack of content by any means. The story is very interesting since Alex’s powers are cool and yes very helpful for his everyday life, but they don’t really help fight guys that can create fire out of thin air or fly and smash things with their bare fists. It’s an interesting look at a lesser power, but also the barriers strong desire to do something with it. Alex narrates most of the issue and it works for the story. In a lot of ways it gives it a Peter Parker, Spider-man feel, but it’s not always perfect. There is this really strange habit that Alex has, where he breaks from his serious monologue to check out a girl or just feel cocky about his encounter with the opposite sex. That was actually the part of his character I didn’t buy since he’s A) a good looking guy and B) has low self-esteem. I find it hard to believe that a woman hasn’t entered his life and taken advantage of that situation, but whatever there’s a subplot love interest in the works.
Alex becomes involved with the superhero world when he refuses to let his father’s death rest, but even his introduction to the world is a bit different from other comics. In a lot of ways he’s being treated like a kid and so his interactions with the heroes is different than someone that’s truly ready to suit up and fight crime. It’s a different take that’s for sure.
The art is really good and very consistent. It’s not overly detailed, but it does have just enough to keep it interesting. The style works for the story and does a decent job of communicating the contents of the story without the narration or dialog. The coloring is okay. It’s not that it doesn’t work for the art, but I wonder if it could look better. In general it gives the book a very flat look which keeps it from being overly realistic looking. It does work with it though and the lighting effects are very good throughout all four issues.
The thing I especially liked about these four issues was the fact that the story didn’t inflate after just one issue. Really Alex’s life doesn’t become a mess until the fourth issue and so we’re given plenty of time to spend with average Alex. It makes you sympathize and relate to his character more since a lot of us work or have worked boring routine jobs. It’s a superhero book for sure, but we’re not following a superhero (at least not yet) and that’s what makes it interesting and different from other superhero titles. If you need a break from your usual cape books or you simply enjoy the power to be able to talk to machines then check out Binary Gray from Assailant Comics.
Writer: Chris Charlton
Artist: Rowel Roque
Publisher: Assailant Comics
Price: $3.99 each