GEMINI 1

GEMINI
Written by Jay Faerber and Drawn by Jon Sommarvia
Published by
Image

GEMINI is a recent addition to the roster of Image superheroes. By day (most of the time) he’s Daniel Johnson: boring, mindless automaton. Works an ‘Office Space’ job, never goes out with co-workers, and spends all his free time at home watching TV. Or so he thinks. When darkness falls (or if big time evil can’t wait for nighttime), he becomes ‘activated’ by the US Government Powers That Be. Once activated, he’s Gemini, supreme kicker of villainous asses.

The idea isn’t one hundred percent original, but it’s not so done it doesn’t spark some interest. However, the writing will need to shape up in the subsequent four issues if Gemini is going to survive mediocrity. In this first issue, equal pages are distributed to both Dan/Gemini and the Geek Gang who ‘run’ the hero, and both stories are equally stereotypical. Gemini debuts as a raven-haired Mr. Incredible with a costume which strongly resembles that of Harley Quinn from Batman: The Animated Series. He makes bad jokes, he’s pretty damn spry, seemingly good at everything he does, and is the go-to guy when other supers are on the ropes.

The four government technicians charged with keeping a very close eye on our hero are pretty standard (and also geeky versions of Archie and friends). There are several ‘by the book’ types with varying levels of friendliness, and of course there’s a newbie, who immediately starts questioning the morals of secretly controlling an individual’s life.

Not to say GEMINI doesn’t keep a reader interested. Faerber drops enough hints to show Dan Johnson wasn’t always a government secret super-spook, and longing from the character to unconsciously break free of his ‘no social life’ programming is shown several times. Plus the art was rather enjoyable. The larger-than-the-average-bear proportions are quite fitting in a superhero book, and Sommarvia’s work reminded me a bit of Carlos Pacheco’s run with the X-Men during “Operation: Zero Tolerance”. His spreads of our hero and the villains are incredible; however he does need to work on consistency (Dan seems to swell even larger when ‘out of uniform’).

The end definitely qualifies as a “Holy Shit!” moment, and does make me want to pick up the next issue, just to find out how the hell Gemini manages to…well, I don’t want to give away the surprise.

Faerber needs to focus on unique story-telling more than following protocol (and to try not to explain a character’s powers three times in one scene), and Sommarvia and FColor need to hone their good work. I would like to see a little more imagination in the subsequent issues, though with an ending like that I’m inclined to be a bit more optimistic than I probably should be.

Avril Brown

NOBLE CAUSES 34

Noble Causes 34
Written by Jay Faerber and Drawn by Yildray Cinar
Published by
Image

The spandex-soap opera that is the saga of the Noble Family continues in ‘Cold Front’, the title of this issue of NOBLE CAUSES written by veteran comic-book story-smith Jay Faerber. The story opens with Zephyr, Celeste and Slate fighting a giant Egyptian pharaoh (or so it appears) on the banks of The Nile in Egypt. Once the trio has dispatched the threat, Zephyr receives a call from home base informing her that a tragic event has occurred, leaving one of the Noble family in a coma. What follows is a series of character pieces and dialogues that peels back the ‘noble’ veneer and reveals some the seamy, unsightly aspects of the titular heroes. The story ends with a cliff-hanger revelation that may draw gasps from regular readers of the title. Too bad I’m not one of them; else I might have enjoyed the issue a bit more.

As someone who is familiar with the high-concept of NOBLE CAUSES, I went into the comic pretty much expecting what I got. Truth be told, I’ve never read the title before, but that wasn’t much of hindrance as the book follows your standard, by-the-numbers formula that all soap operas follow. But where in soap operas it’s ‘talk-talk-purse your lips’ in NC it’s ‘talk-talk-punch someone in the face.’ Still, after the initial battle in Egypt, we’re whisked back to the Noble household and it left me wondering: uh…what was the point of showing the fight in the beginning? I kept waiting for some sort of through-line to connect the events significantly, but outside of one of the characters watching the battle on television, there doesn’t seem to be any pay off. Actually, that’s not even my biggest gripe with the book. The Noble family has been compared to the Kennedy’s of ‘real life’ and I can see why. They’re celebrities, icons, and revered members of society. But damn if I didn’t like any of them. Outside of beating up on super-villains, they don’t seem very heroic, squabbling with each other, their fights escalating at one point to PG-13 levels with a character telling another ‘He didn’t need to rape you because you’ll spread your legs for—‘ and getting interrupted before he could finish. As someone who’s accustomed do the caustic demonizing superheroes get in Garth Ennis’ THE BOYS, I’m not going to say I was offended, but at least THE BOYS makes up for its vulgarity with humor. There wasn’t anything in this issue to make me, a first-time reader, care about the characters or what they were going through. They just seemed like a bunch of self-involved prima donnas who have few redeeming qualities. Perhaps I’m being unfair- again, I’m looking at this as a first time reader- but what’s to attract me to buy it again? Geez, at least have one of the Nobles pet a puppy or something…that bit always works.

On the plus side, the art by Yildray Cinar is pretty solid and clean, with workman storytelling that gets the job done effectively. It lacks the realism and detail we’ve become accustomed to in many of the titles from the ‘Big Two’, but it fits the tone of the book. I’m going to assume that regular readers of NC will enjoy the issue as they’re vested in the characters, so I won’t slight the book for what it is: a chapter in a much larger story. But since I can’t seem to let the seeming un-heroic nature of the Noble family go, I’ll end with this: there’s a sequence in which some of the Nobles go after a villain with powers similar to their fallen comrade’s, rationalizing that a blood transfusion from this villain will save his life. They hunt down the villain and corner him, practically provoking him to fight, whereupon they lay the proverbial smack-down on the mook and forcibly hook him up to a transfusion device. As the villain laments the illegality of their actions, the Nobles dismiss his complaints as hypocritical- he is, after all, a villain and a career law-breaker.

But then again…The Nobles are supposed to be heroes. And while I know the series is supposed to be about the people behind the façade of heroism, in this case…couldn’t they have y’know, just asked nicely? That’s what heroes do, don’t they? Or is that simply the point Faerber is trying to make? There are no heroes. Or those who we make out to be heroes are seldom what we expect them to be.

Then again, you could also say that, like most soap opera, if the characters don’t act irrationally, you don’t have a story.

And that’s why I don’t watch soaps.

Elliott Serrano