The Hypernaturals are hunting a killer, and how better to do so than to consult Sublime, the team’s arch-nemesis? Major Spoilers could think of a couple better ideas since that sounds about as bad as walking into the basement of a haunted house without a flashlight…
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Tom Derenick and Andres Guinaldo
Colors: Stephen Downer
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Dafna Pleban
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Hypernaturals: All the Hypernaturals died. This led to a new recruitment drive that consisted of reinstating retired members and fast-tracking inexperienced rookies. The death of the Hypernaturals was at the hands of a mysterious villain whose modus operandi echoed that of their historic greatest foe, Sublime. The only problem is they know Sublime is in maximum lock-down prison, so it can’t be him!
TO CATCH A KILLER…
This issue continues the storytelling technique that’s been used in past issues, where they simultaneously tell a story set in the storied history of the Hypernaturals (this time the capture of Sublime) and a story set in present day. Both stories are well-told, but the craftsmanship behind the present day story is of particular note. The basic premise is the Hypernaturals are going to talk to Sublime to both verify he isn’t behind the attacks and to find out what he WOULD do next if he were behind the attacks, since the killer is following his M.O. so closely. The entry to the maximum security prison and subsequent visit with Sublime take on a perfectly creepy tone; creating a compelling villain is difficult, and not only have Abnett and Lanning done a good job with building a universe but they’ve fleshed it out with a variety of deep characters.
Again in this issue we get some Hypernatural propaganda pieces, helping to add to the illusion of reality in this universe, and an internet article-style debriefing on past events. Unfortunately in the review PDF that BOOM! Studios sent us the debriefing page was absolutely illegible due to a poor image quality in the PDF, but in the past those troubles obviously don’t translate to the print copies. (The image sizes for high-resolution PDFs are ridiculous; normal review copies are between 8 and 15 MB; once I noticed an issue was high-res and later found out it was 75MB and impossible to open on my tablet). There’s also a typewritten report about Sublime at the end of the issue which was a nice addition (and completely legible).
In my previous Hypernaturals review I mentioned the confusion between Clone 45 and Clone 46; there’s a Clone 45 subplot to this issue where he comes back to Hypernaturals HQ, and the distinction between his identity as Clone 45 and the slain Clone 46 is reiterated, so it would appear we’re past that now. I don’t remember if it had been touched on in the past, but Clone 45 is extremely short, a trait–when coupled with his self-sufficient demeanor–is reminiscent of a popular vertically-challenged character from Marvel comics (obviously I’m referring to Howard the Duck). I don’t know, given the extended team nature of the Hypernaturals and limited number of archetypical characters to draw from, if Clone 45 will take up the Wolverine role or not, but in an Abnett and Lanning book it’s always fun to try to outguess them.
ART: THE FINAL FRONTIER
Another substory in this issue deals with Halfshell’s theft of her power armor. She is a voluptuous woman with a fairly realistically drawn body type–she isn’t chubby or anything, but she doesn’t have a wasp-waist either, and the company that makes the Halfshell armor is afraid to ruin their wholesome look with a woman who will be spilling out of the costume so much. This stood out as an odd point to me in the past issues, as the armor is inherently quite skimpy–not the type of device one would expect a company worried about a family friendly image would design, but going back to the world-building propaganda posters,one is included of a previous Halfshell, and the dichotomy between the current Halfshell’s styling of the suit and the previous’, the reader is made to understand their concerns.
Every time I review a book from BOOM! Studios (which I find that I’m doing more and more often) I compliment the strong inks that are the BOOM! house art style. While with larger publishers like DC or Marvel I like to see diversity in art, it’s nice to see a through-line between books that one company puts out.
BOTTOM LINE: ABNETT AND LANNING CONTINUE TO EXCEL
Abnett and Lanning do a masterful job weaving several storylines around each other and not letting any character get the short stick while doing so. Hypernaturals #3 is a stellar performance from both a story and artistic perspective; overall earning 4.5 out of 5 stars.