Ever since the debut issue of the New 52, Darkseid and his minions of Apokalips have made their presence known. But what about their opposite number among the New Gods, the utopian world known as New Genesis? Your Major Spoilers review of Infinity Man And The Forever People #1 awaits!
INFINITY MAN AND THE FOREVER PEOPLE #1
Writer: Keith Giffen and Dan Didio
Penciller: Keith Giffen
Inker: Scott Koblish
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Infinity Man And The Forever People #1: “Four of the best students from New Genesis arrive on Earth to study and aid in the advancement of humanity. But they soon discover a darker purpose to their mission: A threat so great that it may bring the Multiverse to its knees. And who is the mysterious entity known as the Infinity Man?”
GIFFEN + DIDIO = UNKNOWN QUANTITY
There’s a basic rule of comic books by Keith Giffen: I generally like them, even if they’re a bit too grim and murderous.
There’s a basic rule of comics book by Dan Didio: I generally dislike them, even though they shoot for a hopeful tone.
So, going into this issue, I had no idea what to expect. After all, this team gave us OMAC, one of the first cancellations of the New 52, and a book that I honestly can’t remember much of anything about less than 3 years later. As this issue opens, though, I’m immediately impressed, as Giffen and Koblish deliver a series of wide-angle sweeping shots of the architecture of New Genesis, overlaid with excerpts from Highfather’s commencement speech from the ‘Academy of Higher Conscience.’ In short order, we are introduced to our dramatis personae: Vykin Baldaur, a jerk-jock Golden Boy; Mark Moonrider, the rebellious John Bender-type; Vykin’s little sister Serafina, who has issues with big brother’s more controlling tendencies; and Beautiful Dreamer, the weird girl who nonetheless has a tendency to speak truth. Vykin accidentally activates the group’s Mother Box, opening a Boom Tube to Earth as part of some sort of graduate exchange program, and the instantly feuding foursome is catapulted across space and time to the aptly named ‘Planet Of The Humans.’
REWORKING THE TEAM
Those who are familiar with the old-school Five Man Band lineup of the Forever People may notice some changes in the group, several of them for the better. Vykin (previously known by the troublesome sobriquet of ‘Vykin The Black’) is the leadership presence, while Serafina’s counterpart was one of Kirby’s golden-haired angel-children, a space cowboy named Serifan. The change in gender and skin-tone helps to balance the team a bit more to my liking, and I enjoy the balance of personalities at play here. The ‘Breakfast Club’ references aren’t accidental, either, as there is a clear attempt to draw parallels to those archetypical teen characters, especially in Beautiful Dreamer’s weirdo Ally Sheedy-isms. The introduction of fifth Forever Person Big Bear adds an additional wrinkle, as he is a slightly older student who seems to bear some discontent with the rank and file of New Genesis’ conventional wisdom, which balances out Vykin and Mark’s power-struggle nicely. From an art standpoint, this is Giffen doing pure Kirby, even more so than his work on OMAC (or his early Defenders Kirby knockoff phase back in the 1970s), giving us familiar characters with new faces that are nonetheless based on the works of the late King. The cliffhanger for #1 involves another Fourth World character, Mantis, who hasn’t looked this thick and well-rendered since Kirby himself last drew the character. The issue is, sadly, short of plot and lacking some key explanations (like, f’rinstance, a clear understanding of why these kids are coming to Earth in the first place) but makes up for some of that with intriguing character work.
THE BOTTOM LINE: THERE IS POTENTIAL HERE.
All told, though not a lot happens in the issue, there is a sense of something larger occurring just outside our vision, and (oddly for a book that seems to be about how terrible a place Earth is to these students of a higher culture) it seems a little bit more hopeful than much of the New 52 output. Giffen and Didio mesh well in their writing, at least, and I’m impressed with how accurately Keith can mimic Jack Kirby’s style. Still, the proof of the Forever Puddin’ is in the Infinity Eatin’, and there is as yet no sign of the titular Infinity Man, which constitutes a pretty big pacing issue for this month’s outing. All in all, though, Infinity Man And The Forever People #1 is solid work, translating the flower children of New Genesis into a more modern form without destroying the central conceit, and giving us a big love letter to the man who made it all possible, with some fun character pieces as well, for a not-too-shabby 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I sincerely hope that these creators are able to put together a more accessible and successful run than their work on OMAC, because this book could be something that the New 52 has been sorely lacking in: Hope and youthfulness.