Review: Mystery Society #1

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What is the Mystery Society?  Who are the founders?  Why is the leader going to jail?  The mystery behind the Mystery Society begins in this first issue by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples.

Mystery Society #1
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Bob Schreck
Publisher: IDW Publishing

IT’S AN ORIGIN STORY, WITHOUT THE ORIGIN

Nick Hammond, also known as Nick Mystery, the co-leader of the Mystery Society is going to jail.  But before we can find out the real reason he’s being locked up, his impromptu press conference hints at the origin of the Mystery Society, and how Anastasia and Nick Hammond landed in their current predicament.

In a sense, this issue is an origin story, as we learn what got Nick and Anastasia in trouble, but we don’t really learn how the group formed.  We do learn that having a great deal of money gives someone the ability to buy and do just about anything they want, as Nick travels to Area 51 in a jet powered GTO, and has all manner or gadgets and gizmos to get him past base security.   He’s like The Saint, meets Batman, meets James Bond, meets Buckaroo Banzai.

Steve Niles creates a fast paced adventure story in this opening chapter, as Nick’s adventure to the base is met with everything from men with guns, to a ED-201 type sentry, while his wife has her day interrupted by a dead woman with a skull mask who wants to join the group.  The back and forth between the two is well done, as readers really get the sense that we’re witnessing a married couple exchanging conversation like someone talking on a cell phone while shopping at the local market.

The story unfolds naturally, and when the big reveal of the 2X2 Girls occurred, I knew I was hooked for the run of the series.

LIKE AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH

The first thing that struck me when opening this issue, was the art by Fiona Staples.  Her style is really striking as each character has a very unique look that isn’t duplicated for other characters.  Too often, body forms and sizes look like a carbon copy of other characters, and this is really distracting.  Staples, doesn’t fall into that trap as Nick Hammond is drawn as a stick thin character, while his police escorts look like heavy set thugs ready to hand out a beating.

Along with the great art, the coloring needs a mention here as well.  As the issue opens, everything has a very grainy look to it, almost like readers are watching a film real from the news or an old photograph.  That look continues throughout the issue, and while it may be off-putting to some, I find it brings a bit more life to the static page.  The colors remain muted throughout the issue, and that’s okay too, but there are a few panels that I felt needed to be clean and saturated with color.  For those who got a big kick out of J.H. Williams III’s layouts in Batwoman, you’ll like how Mystery Society also doesn’t always follow the square panel layout that appears in the majority of the books today.

BOTTOM LINE  – BUY IT

I originally didn’t order this book based on the solicitation information sent by the company a few months ago.  But as the release date drew near, and I saw interior art, I had to re-examine my original opinion. In order for a series to capture my attention, it better have a great hook, a story that isn’t completely predictable, and art that is a departure from everything else that is currently thrust upon us.  Mystery Society #1 offers all of this and more, as over the top action meets witty dialogue, and every form of supernatural and conspiracy theory comes alive.  Other companies made an attempt with a team that investigates the unknown, but Mystery Society pulls it off much better.  I’m giving this first installment 4.5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★½

This review is based on a complementary copy sent by the publisher

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