Review: Oblivion #1

During my read of Oblivion #1, I asked myself what I had been missing. There was once a time I would skim through a comic, eyes blazing past the words in an effort to absorb small tidbits of information as they were plainly given, but even after a thorough examination of each individual panel, I felt as though I had regressed back to my middle-school days of attempted speed-reading and hyper-consumption. After finding that I had not missed some hidden intricacy in between the lines, I turned toward the material surrounding this book, and it appeared that I was correct. I somehow had managed to avoid the  crucial fact that Oblivion is a sequel, or rather a reboot if we're to believe the implications of its "A Rose By Any Other Name" naming convention. The movie was entitled Oblivion and was directed by Sam Irvin. I've not seen the original film, but after a cursory glance at the trailer, I feel prepared to say that this initial issue for a re-branding is not worth its asking price.

Oblivion_1_Cover_A copyThere's a strange line between writing and art where comics exist that must be paid constant attention. Inside that line, where art, action, and dialogue form the panels of a comic, exists the concept of conveyance, and it is this concept of conveyance where I find Oblivion #1 fails greatest. While neither the writing nor the art are sub-par, in fact even excellent at times, the two never connect to create meaningful imagery or to accurately convey the emotion or even the actions behind a scene. The writing seems to assume the art is incapable of capturing moments such as a phone being dropped to the ground or the violent reaction of an angry mob.

As a consequence, the art is never given the leeway to capture said moments and thus, the decades old problem of an artist attempting to make long, moody conversations visually interesting exists in a comic that is all but screaming to be visually interesting. The closest this issue gets to a moment of visually exciting and contextually thrilling action is a brief fight with violent prostitutes that is both crippled by its briefness in the larger scope of the issue and a lack of visceral motion in the characters movement, leading to a particularly frustrating moment where a character rears her head back for a reverse-headbutt with little visual indicator to impact while the aforementioned character spouts overly-long exposition (“My Dad was an interstellar criminal who left orphans across seven systems...”) only to lead to a clunky payout in the panel after the headbutt has stopped being relevant to the character's proof of competence. (“You think I don't know how to defend myself?”) In fact, the comic as a whole seems to believe that exposition is a competent replacement for banter, character moments or actions.

It's difficult to find myself not dwelling on the negative when the issue as a whole is so poorly conveyed as to be not frustrating or thrilling, but rather boring. Characters and concepts are introduced quickly and without meaningful impact and I was left feeling as though I should be taking notes rather than enjoying myself. This may be different were I to recognize the characters from the 1994 film, but these introductions, if fan-service they must be, do not act as seminal moments in which to brazenly introduce characters that had once brought me joy, but rather as cliffnotes to hurriedly remind me that I don't need to spend my time reintroducing myself so we can get to the characters who matter.

Oblivion #1 comes alive for a brief moment in the prostitute fight where the art and writing come together to create a single punchline involving a prostitute being "given a new john" while having been slammed into a toilet. Otherwise, I would be wary of recommending this even to fans of the original movie, for if the original was good enough to deserve this sequel, then this comic should be devoted more to retaining the fun and campy excitement of the film rather than slowing down to remind me that the film existed.

I understand this may be a harsh review for a first issue to a previously established franchise, but I also believe that working within that same previously established franchise should be license to skip right to the fun parts, rather than to slow down the chain of events with lazy fan-service that exists to piggyback off of the original rather than to create exciting and unique moments of its own.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Oblivion #1
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Marcelo Costa, Romina Moranelli
Colorist: Marcelo Costa
Publisher: Danger Zone
Price: $2.99
Format: Ongoing; Digital