Not so long ago, I Retro Reviewed the first adventure of telepath Matt Price, from the far-flung Silver Age of comics. Now, we stop, collaborate and listen, ’cause Matt’s back in a brand-new edition (but hopefully one that will outlast the legacy of Vanilla Ice.) Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
A fun central character.
An interesting premise.
Leery of new books full of mysteries.
That cover is REALLY ugly.
Previously in Brain Boy: After the untimely deaths of his parents in a freak accident, young Matt Price became a ward of Albright Industries, his late parents’ employers. Now the most powerful telepath alive, Matt occasionally works his mental magic for the United States secret service, but he’s never met his match in the psionics department… until now.
BATTLE OF THE MUTANT BRAINS!
It’s kinda cool when an issue kicks off with a bang, and this one delivers, with a first-page shot of our hero being brain-blasted by the very third-world banana republic dictator that he has been sent to protect. (For those who read the Retro Review and/or the original issues, he is Ricorta, the antagonist from the original Four-Color Comics origin issue.) I’m also fascinated by the fact that this comic uses THOUGHT BUBBLES (!!) to represent telepathic sending from other characters, while Matt Price himself uses the more contemporary narration boxes. Van Lente puts a lot of character into Brain Boy and Ricorta, as well as FBI agent Faraday, who arrives to pull Matt’s fat out of the metaphorical fire early in the issue. There’s a nice blend of Tom Clancy-style cloak-and-dagger stuff with X-Men-style superpowers, and Matt himself is likeable, in a deadpan snarker sort of way. The use of psychic powers and telekinesis is all kept to a relatively manageable level, and with the exception of a few floating/flying sequences, this would have made a good TV show, a la ‘Manimal’ or ‘Knight Rider.’
A FUN STORY, WITH SOME BITE TO IT…
Artistically, I’m very impressed with the issue, but part of that comes from the fact that my first thought upon picking up the issue was how incredibly unattractive Ariel Olivetti’s cover is. The interior art is completely different and very effective, with Silva and Lean coming up with some interesting ways to demonstrate psychic abilities, something that has been done so often that it’s difficult to find a new take on. The facial expressions throughout the book are a joy, as well, and the big cliffhanger moment at the end is unexpected and shocking in a very Cronenberg way. Agent Faraday, in her featureless anti-psi technology suit is fascinating to look at, and a moment wherein Price, his TK negated by another mentat, pulls out his firearm in triumph is both exhilarating and kind of shocking, for more reasons than one…
THE BOTTOM LINE: I KINDA HOPE THIS THING STICKS AROUND.
As the issue wraps up, I immediately find myself wanting to read more of this book, as the main character is interesting and fun without being a traditional superhero, and it feels like Van Lente is having a great deal of fun playing with the character. Brain Boy #2 surprised me, even as I enjoyed the original incarnation, delivering a one-two punch of spycraft and psionics that hits the spot, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. If you like realistic superheroics, you definitely want to check this one out…