Review: Brilliant #1

I remember when Marvel’s Icon imprint started, it was supposed to be a way for anyone to get a comic made… then it quickly became a Vertigo style imprint for Marvel where their contract writers could release creator owned books and have the Marvel marketing in charge of pushing the book. That meet with a lot of success with titles like Trouble, Powers, Kick Ass and other books from big name creators. Now it’s become an imprint for, well three creators: Bendis, Millar (who’s jumping ship) and Brubaker. What started as a line full of potential has seen that potential continue to dwindle with every passing month and every new series. The latest series from Bendis and his Ultimate Spider-Man cohort Bagley is Brilliant.
The series reeks of pop culture and movie reference that takes a very generic comic book superhero idea and plugs it into the middle of it all. The concept is simple: College students have discovered superpowers... scientific superpowers. Now throw in a mixture of The Social Network and The Town then steal from other comics like Preacher and of course Ultimate Spider-Man and you have a book that’s so convoluted with dialog and characters that are beyond annoying. Frankly if you’ve read anything by Bendis in the past two years you’ll find that this book is par for the course. If it were a movie (which its really trying to be), then if you looked away from the screen you would have no idea who was talking. Every character talks exactly the same and frankly I don’t know what a middle-aged white man knows about minorities living in the big city and going to college, but I’m going to guess not much. There are two main characters that are African-American and I’m not saying that they need to talk like rappers, but I don’t think they need to talk like nerdy white guys either.
brilliant1The art on the other hand has grown and changed so much from Ultimate Spider-Man… alright let’s just stop right there because that’s not true at all. Bagley’s art is Bagley’s art and that’s all you can say. He’s a fast artist and that’s great for deadlines, but pretty piss poor when you want fine details on anything other than the characters to look good. Also I’m not sure if he’s coloring his own work now, but it was extremely faded looking and gave it a dated look. I’m mean the book is already dated in concept and in its weak attempt at capturing an audience of a best-picture nominee from last year, but that doesn’t mean the art should follow suit.
I’m sure that others will say that this book is in fact brilliant while others will make the easy joke saying that it is anything but. I’ll take a different route and say I understand why the name was picked, but if you’re going to be cocky enough to title it that you should make sure you deliver a product that changes the course of comics. Instead Bendis is taking an old concept of science creating super powers and putting it in a modern setting.
Score: 2/5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Mark Bagley Publisher: Marvel Comics and Icon Price: $3.95