Review: Ex-Con #1

When Dynamite first announced this series I wasn’t too excited and unfortunately it didn’t come around and hook me like I hoped it would. I want to talk about that cover to begin with because it’s ugly. It’s clearly photo referenced and just something about it is really ugly. Like annoying ugly. Comic covers have come so far and yet a cover like this exists and it makes me want to hit the reset button on the entire thing. Enough about the cover just avoid looking at it or get one of the variants that I’m sure they have. The story is unfortunately easy to sum up. We meet Cody Pomeray (let’s all pause for a Frisky Dingo inspired “Coooddddaaay!”) who is a con man that can see colors. He has the condition known as Color Synesthesia and it allows him to see the color of someone’s thoughts or aura. Green is greedy, orange is weak and so on. It’s a useful talent for Cody when he’s working a con, but he rubs someone the wrong way and ends up in the slammer. Within the first six hours of his stay he gets the shit kicked out of him until the Pope saves him. Not the real Pope, but a dude that calls himself that. He agrees to protect Cody as long as he does him a favor after getting out of prison.

Five years later Cody is out of prison and we don’t know him or like him anymore than when we meet him. He’s picked up in a limo and meets his ex-girlfriend who set him up for the fall that put him prison. She’s got a job for him, of course. Meanwhile his parole officer is an attractive woman and she’s a real ball-buster and she’s going to help him go legit.

The problem with the story is that there’s really nothing special about it. Sure the Color Synesthesia is interesting, but he loses the “gift” after getting the shit kicked out of him in prison and his reliance on it is what caused him to lose it in the first place.

Ex Con #1The rest of the story is pretty much paint by numbers:

  • Forced to repay his favor instantly
  • Seemingly simple task that will prove to be more difficult than initially expected
  • Ex-flame clouding judgement and setting him up for another fall to save her own skin
  • Parole officer that’s attractive and genuinely wants to help

I’m sure there’s more checks I could mark, but if you’ve seen those elements together in another story before that’s because you have.

The big kicker is the fact that we don’t have any reason to root for our main character. He has a cool gift, but that’s not a reason. Usually in stories like this it’s either a likeable cool guy that doesn’t actually do evil things or he has some motivation like a kid or a wife he’s been away from because of prison. Hell a sick mom, a brother he was supposed to take care of. Really there isn’t anyone he’s attached to in the world so I’m not really sure why I should care about him. The story makes it seem like he’s on the short path to an early grave which is even more of a reason not to care.

The art is okay and Cody looks a lot better in the interior than the cover. The problem I had with the art was the character’s faces. I applaud the attempt at giving them a variety of looks and shapes because that’s closer to real life, but ultimately some of them end up with weird proportions in either the jaw line or forehead. Also there are a lot of strange boobs throughout the issue. I’ve out grown the age of looking at every comic book boob I can, but I notice when they’re funky. There’s some that are drawn way to low on the body, side-boobs that aren’t realistic looking and the ex-girlfriend’s boobs change shape and size throughout the entire issue.

It’s an average issue. It’s not unreadable, but there isn’t a lot to bring you back for the second issue. I doubt I’ll review the second issue unless something spectacular happens, but really this entire first issue has set the series up to be a paint-by-numbers con-man story even though we have no proof that he’s a good con-man… the story just tells us he’s one, but never displays it. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s average execution has revealed all of its holes.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artist: Keith Burns Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/3/14 Format: Print/Digital