Onyx was a book that hadn’t been on my radar until this week, but coming from IDW editor and accomplished writer Chris Ryall and the excellent artist behind Locke and Key Gabriel Rodriguez, I wanted to give it a try. What I found was a fun, but ultimately disappointing book, which has a lot of potential although isn’t quite delivering on it with this first issue. The book introduces us to Onyx - a being from another world with a rather cool silver spacesuit - who lands on Earth to stop a deadly space virus from infecting the planet. Upon making contact with humans there is quite predictably a hostile reaction, followed quickly by reconciliation and an agreement to join forces for the good of mankind. If that sounds like a familiar story to you that’s because it is; countless sci-fi tales have centered on a being from another planet with good intentions, who is initially misunderstood but ultimately accepted as a force for good. That’s the biggest problem with this debut issue, Onyx #1 offers very little that fans of the genre haven’t seen before. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had with this issue, but you have to accept it for what it is. This story isn’t breaking new ground, nor is it asking any philosophical questions. However, if you’re in the market for a slightly silly story akin to a summer blockbuster action movie you could do worse than Onyx #1.
That being said, there’s one other flaw this book has which I’d argue is more worrying than the slightly unoriginal plot and that is the lack of character development present in this first issue. It’s obvious that Ryall wants to spotlight two specific characters in this issue – Onyx herself, and the psychic that goes by the name ‘Loner’ – but neither are particularly compelling. Onyx beats stuff up and delivers exposition like a robot (despite insisting that she isn’t one), while Loner spends the duration of the issue moaning, fainting and looking sad. Of course it doesn’t help that some of the dialogue in this issue is laughable, especially during the fight scenes where Onyx cries out such gems as “Sorry, once-noble beast!” as she stabs a mutated leopard in the face.
Still, while the writing isn’t always up to par, Gabriel Rodriguez’s artwork is excellent as expected. Both the sight of Onyx crashing to Earth as a huge meteor, and the design of the grotesquely mutated creatures the characters have to fight are suitably epic, and work well to give the book the look of a blockbuster sci-fi movie. The colors by Jay Fotos give the art a great finish, with many pages looking really quite fantastic. It’s just a shame the accompanying dialogue often isn’t up to the same standard.
Onyx #1 is a disappointing start for this new series. While the artwork looks phenomenal, the writing leaves a lot to be desired. I can excuse the somewhat unoriginal and simplistic storyline, but the bad dialogue and lack of compelling characters are harder to ignore and end up really weighing this book down. If you’re looking for some sci-fi action that doesn’t require you to think too hard, then there is fun to be had with Onyx. But ultimately, it’s hard to justify saving a place for it on your pull list when there is quite frankly far better comics available.