Upon hearing that Saviors was picked up as an ongoing series I thought to myself, “it must actually get good after the first issue.” If you’re familiar with my reviews you know that I rarely pull the trigger on a book in the first paragraph, but I disliked this issue a lot. So much that weeks after its release I still managed to find time to review it because I think it needs to be talked about. Let’s be clear, this issue is going to score low. It would probably score lower if it weren’t for J. Bone being on the series. His animated style was the only, and I mean only bright side of this issue. He does the best with the material given to him in my opinion. His characters are lively and their mannerisms make them come to life. The book is in all black & white which is a plus in my opinion, but again it doesn’t save the story.
Oh the story.
Here’s the thing. I like James Robison. I haven’t read everything he’s written and what I have hasn’t all been good. He has his ups and downs like anyone that creates does. There is just something about the material he’s working on since leaving DC that doesn’t click.
Saviors is about an alien invasion. It’s paint by numbers really. Guy no one believes discovers that theirs aliens among them asks questions (which we actually never see happen) and gets discovered by the aliens, they try to kill him, and a mystery stranger saves the day. That’s it.
I can’t even give you an example of this formula in movies or other comic books because I’ve blocked them out in my mind. I guess you could call it the “Body Snatchers” genre, but I think there are more examples, hell Doctor Who even has an episode that’s basically the same. I avoid stories that use this formula like the plague. They’re not interesting. There’s never anything new brought to the table and the hero always wins. The hero has to win because otherwise you’d hate the story even more.
What’s worse is that Robison appears to think that the addition of drugs will somehow enrich or change the story just enough that you don’t notice the well-worn formula. Well it doesn’t. In fact it honestly came off like it was pandering to the audience. Our introduction to the main character and the world is four pages of the main character smoking pot and feeling sorry for himself because everyone else moved on with life. Granted what he’s saying is the complete opposite. He says he’s actually fine with the fact that his life never changes because all he needs is weed, but J.Bone’s art paints a different story. Also is there anything more cliché than saying “nothing in my life changes” right before a characters entire life changes? I think not.
Aside from the terribly unoriginal story that’s recycled every few years (possibly every year) there were two other facts of the story that shook me to my core. When Tommy (the main character) first discovers the aliens they’ve changed their faces in order to speak in alien to each other… think about that. There’s supposedly no one around to hear or see them and yet they need to speak in their alien form? What’s worse is that this plays into my second biggest problem. Once the aliens reveal themselves they have a second transformation… meaning they changed into a secondary formation just to talk and it’s not even their true form. Why bother? It’s literally there to progress the story and is 100% convenient writing. Again though, it’s how every other versions of this story also play out so I can’t fault Robinson for just using what was in front of him. Well actually I can since he chose to use it.
Usually I would say that “this book isn’t for me” implying that others will probably like it, but that I did not. It’s actually just a bullshit way of saying, “this is my opinion, but I get that I’m in the minority on this one so don’t attack me for having a different opinion.” Let’s be honest that’s what it means. You can tell me my opinion’s wrong, but I will be looking up examples in the meantime. (Start with this list)
I’m not coming back for the second issue. I’m surprised that it’s gotten ongoing status and that people enjoyed it enough for that to happen. This formula is beyond tired and Robison and Bone don’t bring anything to the table to make it fresh and it almost feels as if they’re relying on their names to do the heavy lifting. This book didn’t anger me; it actually offended me as a comic book reader because that last thing I want to read is bad, recycled movie plotlines.
Score: 2/5 (Only for the art)
Writer: James Robinson Artist: J. Bone Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 12/24/13