The first issue of Eric Stephenson’s Nowhere Men attempts to court one’s interest by throwing a good deal of information at the reader while giving very little away. It’s a noble effort, but not one that’s entirely successful. Despite the alluring mix of science, intrigue, and rampaging primates, “Nowhere Men” #1 ultimately falls short of delivering on its potential and the end result is a book that only makes it halfway down the road to interesting.
WRITER: Eric Stephenson
ARTIST: Nate Bellegarde
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: November 28, 2012
In a manner reminiscent of Matt Kindt’s “Mind MGMT”, “Nowhere Men” relies on a variety of story-telling modes to construct the image of a morally ambiguous omnipotent organization. Using a mix of newspaper clippings, advertisements, and leaps in time, Stephenson hints at the seedy underbelly of World Corp, a research conglomerate spearheaded by a group of supposedly charismatic intellectual rock stars. Though we’re told early on that they’re the Beatles of science, issue #1 doesn’t reveal the pertinent details as to how they ushered in a new Scientific Revolution. It’s a decision that’s intended to create an aura of mystery but the end result is more frustrating than intriguing.
The book opens with the quartet of bright, young scientists – Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange and Thomas Walker – ready to take over the world. We then leap forward several years in time when, ta da! They pretty much have. They also manage to play god by creating a gem-encrusted, potentially immortal, gorilla monster and the battle to take the beast down is, by far, the most visually stunning part of the book.
The mid-section of the issue is dominated by a lot of talking heads, who are all very angry and very, very vague. The veritable cornucopia of stern expressions and gritted teeth is surely a sign that the stakes are high but it’s difficult to care much about the generic clash of idealism versus practicality. We get a hint of a compelling mystery in the book’s third act, where a group of researchers appear to have been quarantined and left for dead but the cardboard cutout characters aren’t likely to leave a lasting impression.
Stephenson’s plodding dialogue and Bellegarde’s mostly stiff drawing do little to rouse excitement. Jordie Bellaire’s coloring is at its best when Bellegarde gives her something to work with, which he doesn’t do nearly often enough. The premise of “Nowhere Men” could lead to something unique and interesting but the debut issue leaves something to be desired. The blueprints for greatness are there, but only time will tell if subsequent issues improve upon the execution.
Reviewed by MelissaGrey