Written by Serge Lehman, Fabrice Colin | Art by Gess | Published by Titan Comics
Well the preview write up on this book looked very interesting, citing influences as diverse (and as superb) as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Planetary, and B.P.R.D. As I own all of these, I was very interested to see if the book lived up to the hype. This series first appeared originally a few years back, published as La Brigade Chimerique in Europe, and Titan have previously had a great track record in selecting and re-packaging some excellent European comics. I know little of the creators but a quick bit of online research shows them to be very well respected in the field, with a good track record so what’s not to love?
The first 5 pages set the scene, with mock up information files on the various super humans we are going to encounter, and some background text that helps set the scene. The action takes place in 1938, in a parallel Earth to our own where things were the same up to the First World War. The terrible chemicals used for warfare in WW1 had the unexpected side effect of leading to the creation of super humans across the world. Some, like British speedster The Excelerator, are a force for good. Others, like German scientist Dr Missbrauch, not so much. And how does Marie Curie and her daughter fit in to all this?
The bulk of the issue is taken up by a secret meeting, at which most of the super humans have been asked to attend. Marie Curie’s daughter is there in secret also, having allied with the Soviet mechanized collective ‘We’. It turns out the meeting has been called by Dr Missbrauch, something not universally appreciated by the more heroic super humans among them. Missbrauch is apparently trying to unite the super humans into a collective group that can dominant the normal people, and create a new state, MittelEuropa, that will be a sanctuary for super humans. As you would expect he seems to be being rather selective with the truth, and chaos erupts as someone called The Cockroach intervenes to warn everyone. In the pandemonium that follows it’s clear than there are more than one secret agenda in play.
This book shows a lot of promise, I am always a sucker for historically set super heroics and enjoy it when real life people are woven into the fabric of the story. Some of the archetypes present are fun, with the American delegation especially containing Professor Iron (think Doc Savage), The Hidden (The Shadow) and Steele (early Superman). As the first issue, and one that has to try and establish a lot of characters and background I’ll try not to be too harsh, but it did feel a bit overly complicated, at times confusing, and just generally messy. Some of the dialogue is very pretentious and heavy-handed, with plenty of cod-philosphy, which is either the way the characters are supposed to sound or just a choice of writing style. Too early to tell just yet, but I hope the former.
The art is pretty good, very reminiscent of the Mike Mignola style of art found in BPRD and Hellboy, even down to the colouring. There are some nice character touches, such as the Excelerator always vibrating, a heavy use of shadows maintaining an air of mystery and foreboding through the book, and a great range of panel size and shape keeping the art interesting. Visually very attractive.
On balance, not bad. The concept and ideas are enough to carry this first issue, but next issue we definitely need more substance and plot, and to see what these characters can do.
The Chimera Brigade is definitely worth keeping an eye on.