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Review: The Hypernaturals #1

By | June 29th, 2012
Posted in Reviews | 2 Comments

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are the members of an exclusive writing duo that has quite a vocal fan base, particularly when it comes to their cosmic Marvel work. And for good reason — events such as “Annihilation” and “The Thanos Imperative” were beloved by many simply because they were exciting stories with great characterization. Clearly, all you need to know about “The Hypernaturals” is that it’s a new cosmic-based, creator-owned series by the DnA team, right?

Well, maybe not.

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Illustrated by Brad Walker and Andres Guinaldo

It is the far future; the human race has finally colonized the galaxy, preserving an era of prosperity that’s only possible because of The Hypernaturals. They’re a celebrated, galaxy-wide superhero task force that keeps the peace. That is, until they all mysteriously vanish. Now, as the galaxy teeters on the brink of chaos, it’s up to a group of retired and long forgotten Hypernaturals – and their novice recruits – to save the galaxy from complete destruction. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the superstar writing duo behind ANNIHILATION and THE LEGION, launch an all-new original series that takes cosmic super-heroes to a new frontier.

Sometimes, paying too much attention to positive reviews can be just as harmful to a creator’s work as ignoring any and all bad reviews. This seems to be the core problem with “The Hyprnaturals.” This is not, of course, to suggest that writing duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have grown complacent and have stopped trying; rather, it seems like the fan-favorite team has decided to take one of their most commonly lauded qualities — snappy and witty dialogue — and decided to play it up a notch, rather than leaving it as is. Whether or not this was a conscious decision, one would be forgiven for assuming the DnA team had been playing to their positive reviewers: the dialogue in the first issue of “The Hypernaturals” is the epitome of “trying too hard.” The writers have grown too ready to let their “clever” dialogue take over the page, and while this is a problem in and of itself, it is compounded when the dialogue is worth a sigh or a groan nine times out of ten. It’s all style and no substance, made particularly evident when past events are referenced in ways that seem ominous but not at all natural.

The dialogue issue contributes to many other problems with the comic. Because the dialogue seems stiff and fake, the characters seem fabricated and are difficult to empathize with. Because it is hard to identify with the characters, it is difficult to muster up the energy to care about the story at hand. It’s a vicious chain of events, really. Even if the characterization was there, though, it is hard to say whether or not Abnett and Lanning have created a world of any substance. So far, at least, the space opera setting of “The Hypernaturals” seems not much different from many other settings, and the plot seems like one we comic readers in particular have seen time and time again — “Giant-Size X-Men,” anyone? True, the common remark that there are only so many plots applies here, too, but when the story at hand does not have much else going for it, a little bit of originality can help it go down easier. It is always painful to say this regarding a creator-owned work, but perhaps Abnett and Lanning just play better in other people’s ponds.

Visually, the opening scene by Brad Walker is rather humdrum. It is clear that Walker wants his art to pop off the page — granted, every artist does, but you can specifically see it in Walker’s style — but instead it seems stiff and lifeless. When Andres Guinaldo steps in, things get a little bit better; his style and level of detail is relatively similar to Walker’s, despite seeming a tad more grimy, but his characters seem a bit more alive than Walker’s. Guinaldo also does not fall into the trap of only drawing what he is told; his backgrounds are full of life, energy, and, sometimes, clutter. Of course, this can be a negative thing. Sometimes, Guinaldo’s panels can seem a bit too busy, even when not much in particular is happening, but for the most part, he is a solid enough artist who could certainly deliver a decent story. Unfortunately for him, none is to be found, here.

Those who are just looking for DnA on a “cosmic” book will get what they came for in “The Hypernaturals.” Those who are looking for a decent read above all else, though, should look elsewhere. “The Hypernaturals” is not hyper-anything, but half-hearted on Abnett and Lanning’s part, and while Andres Guinaldo does his job well enough for any other circumstance, it isn’t enough to counteract the writing end of the deal.

Final Verdict: 3.3 – Pass

Walt Richardson

Walt is a former editor for Multiversity Comics and current podcaster/ne'er-do-well. Follow him on Twitter @goodbyetoashoe... if you dare!