By Dave West & Joe Campbell
The second Blessed/Cursed comic from Dave West and Accent UK focuses once more on the interesting nitty-gritty of having powers (wanted or not) but although Invisible Man is a good story it can’t help but suffer in comparison to the first volume.
Way back in 2009, we had the pleasure of showing you ’Whatever happened to the world’s fastest man?‘, a great comic that took what might have been no more than the simple idea behind a 5-page Future Shock as found in the pages of 2000AD and transformed it into a fascinating and thoughtful look at the mechanics of superpowers.
Faced with a city counting down to a devastating bomb-blast, one man with the power to stop time has the chance to save everyone and evacuate the city. The fascinating part of the story is just how he saves all the people, what it costs him, and how difficult it all is, often from the most unexpected quarter. It’s the little details that count here, and the thought West artist Marleen Love put into every facet of the comic that made it stand out; how the act of stopping time and moving each and every body out whilst he’s ageing at a normal rate means he may not survive the rescue, or even down to details such as having to unfreeze time for a split second to allow him to open doors. Yes, between them Dave West and Marleen Lowe filled that 50-page tale with so much detail and style that it really stood out.
Fast forward to now and the second graphic novel in these Blessed/Cursed themed books. They’re tangentially connected, happening in the same world, with ‘Have You Seen The Invisible Man‘ set three years after the blast that ripped through London’s Prometheus Tower on what the world now calls ‘Miracle Day‘.
This comic follows that same successful formula of taking a sideways look at superpowers, this time following a scientist on the brink of developing a chemical formula for invisibility.
Whilst he’s so close to cracking the formula, the vicious looking men in body armour busy shooting everyone in sight are working their way through the complex looking for James Williams and his formula. After all, this invisibility project has military backers, and the idea of invisible soldiers was always going to attract attention from some very nasty people.
Williams does the only thing he can with nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide, he becomes human test subject 001, his own guinea pig, the Invisible Man.
What follows is Hamilton’s quest to uncover the truth, tagging along with the murderous mercenaries, uncovering the plot to steal the formula, and discovering so much more.
Again, we have Dave West adding important little touches, from the very earliest explanation of the problems of creating the invisibility formula to watching the now invisible Hamilton sneaking around and holding his breath (bad guys can’t see him, but they can certainly hear him), or sneaking non-invisible objects past armed guards by hiding behind people moving through. All of this works very well.
But despite it being a good story that moves steadily along with some nicely constructed photo-realistic looking art from Joe Campbell, ‘Have You Seen The Invisible Man simply doesn’t stand up well in the inevitable comparison to ‘Whatever Happened To The World’s Fastest Man?‘
That was a really good, long, involved read, full of details and really satisfying. Invisible Man is over and done with far too fast, the details may be good but there’s simply not enough of them, the plot may be good but it’s too fast (and the twist about two thirds through is a little too obvious, signposted along the way).
Artistically Joe campbell’s work here is similar to West’s story… it’s okay, functional, really quite good at moments, but overall simply feels a little too ordinary and static, always a risk with this photo referenced style. Well crafted sure, and easy on the eye, very few obvious mistakes or problems, but simply not too much to rave over either.
I never like reviewing negatively, especially with UK comics, but here it’s impossible not to I fear, as although credit should go to Dave West and Joe Campbell that they’ve produced something very clever second time around, the big failing here comes from the fact that time around West made something really, really clever, and stylish, and thrilling, and original. He was competing with himself, and sadly comes out second best here.