In my review of the first issue of Onyx, I compared this science fiction series to an action-heavy summer blockbuster – one which doesn’t require much brainpower to sit down and watch. With this third issue I’m going to amend that comparison as at this point this series seems more reminiscent of a direct-to-DVD Syfy channel movie, which needless to say is quite a downgrade. This series isn’t without merit and from time-to-time I see glimmers of things which could have been great, but ultimately these ideas are wasted on a series which is frankly sub-par. Onyx #3 continues the story of a human strike force who have allied themselves with the titular character – alien warrior Onyx – in the hope of stopping a spore which has infected Earth’s very core and left many animals horrifyingly mutated. It’s not a bad premise, and the previous issue did attempt to enter more thought-provoking areas with ideas about animal rights and slavery thrown around to varying success. Unfortunately, with this third instalment we step back into mindless action scenes and tiresome attempts at character development which fail to add any depth to the cast of this book. As a result, moments that should be emotional just don’t impact the reader at all because we have no reason to feel connected to any one character in this series.
But it isn’t just the characters in this book that are disappointing, the plot itself also leaves much to be desired. Writer Chris Ryall seems to have a limited understanding of set-up. Rather than putting things in place in advance before letting them come into significance further down the line, developments that have a major impact on the story are introduced mere moments before they’re needed. This makes the script feel rushed, almost as if Ryall was making things up as he went along which also bogs down the more promising elements of this book.
Chief among them is the art and monster designs by Gabriel Rodriguez. One of the mutated creatures featured in this issue genuinely freaked me out, I had to look away because I just found it so creepy – and that’s a good thing. Indeed, this is one area where Onyx has actually made me feel something and for a moment this did lead to me putting myself in the character’s shoes and feeling some empathy for their unenviable situation. That empathy was quickly dropped once the characters started talking again, but nonetheless that moment of emotion was noteworthy.
But no amount of good art can hold up a book with such a weak plot, and the absence of any interesting or likeable characters to latch onto is perhaps the final nail in the coffin for this series. I want to like Onyx. I really do. There is potential in some of the ideas that the book offers. However, the series has been executed poorly so what is left of said ideas by the end is nothing but a bland mess of bad dialogue and nonsensical plot twists.
Onyx #3 Writer: Chris Ryall Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez Colorist: Jay Fotos Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/18/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital