Inspired is the first word that comes to mind with Curt Pires and Dalton Rose’s “Theremin.” Exciting, ambitious, and beautiful are some of the words that follow. This book takes a love for a man lost to history and cultivates it into something only comics can create: an epic time bending adventure.
Leon Theremin was indeed a real man. Here, Pires and Rose embellish the details of his existence and give one hell of an adventure that opens with a bang and never lets up. “Theremin” is both a lesson in alternative history and an incredible amount of fun.
The passion within this project should be evident within the opening pages of the book. We’re introduced Leon Theremin as he alters the course of history… twice over in as many pages. It sets the tone for the book at an all time high and doesn’t really let up. Plus. Vladimir Lenin! Alternative history for the win!
Dalton Rose may just blow your mind with “Theremin.” His paneling is as masterful as you can get. He feeds information in the right doses and by the third page hits you across the face with an epic display of his power. Once Pires pulls you into the “red” he and Rose will have you hook, line, and sinker. There is no going back.
Rose’s wonderfully thin line work only serves to compliment his color palette. Subdued cool blues are sandwiched between the warm red actions packed pages of the book. The result is a very distinct visual style that heavily ties into the core themes of the adventure.
The latter half of the first issue deals with some pretty expository scenes that never feel dull thanks to the work of Rose. Pires’ voiceover serves as the perfect tease to bring the story to a boiling point before reaching an tantalizingly abrupt end.
With issue 2 “Theremin” manages to take a complete turn into something intensely wild and keep its fantastic charm. Pires uses the second chapter of his story to flesh out the supporting cast of the book while warping the space time continuum to his heart’s content.
The result is an issue that deepens the threads of the world in a thoroughly interesting manner that I didn’t quite see coming. We’re treated to a wonderful scene with Archduke Ferdinand that screams historical science fiction in all the right ways. The issue builds to a point of no return, where the events of the last chapter reveal themselves and Lenin rises to the spot of Theremin’s antagonist.
Rose revels in the different locales of this issue and embraces a more pastel color pallette. The result is absolutely staggering. The particular scene with Buddhist monkeys is a total treat for the eyes; the color explodes off the page with rich contrast that completely captivates.
And, holy hell. A simple panel of Theremin sitting on the edge of a bed gives us a window into the mind of his genius. This panel actually had my jaw on the floor. Pires and Rose create something that transcends the book in this moment. Something that shows the entire complexity of their character caught in a flash of vulnerability.
The second issue only serves to improve upon the first. Giving a wonderful new direction for the story that seems natural and surprising. The storytelling remains fresh and the pacing never hits a lull. These are a brisk 18 pages. Enjoy them while you can.
Howard Hughes and his insanity should be the focal point of this third issue, but amongst everything else, the huge personality of Hughes becomes a subdued story beat. “Theremin” goes into overdrive with its third issue. The stakes are raised higher than ever, and Lenin makes a play to destroy Theremin.
The pacing of this issue is erratically fast paced and wonky. You truly need to read it to fully understand, but Pires embraces the insanity of his premise head on. Within every page are panels from different timelines. The beginning, middle, and end of the story are delivered simultaneously to great effect. This is the rawest expression of what Theremin’s life is like, volatile, scattered, and pulse pounding.
Rose’s art is again beyond measure this month. If you are familiar with his stellar work on “Sacrifice” you’ll notice elements from that series at play here. Rose fully embraces his surreal side and the effect is staggering. Pupils are eliminated and swirling colors surround the panels with a perfectly eerie glow.
The fine line work actually struck me this issue. Rose’s depiction of Howard Hughes had me realize we’re looking at the work of a younger Frank Quitely. The scenes near the end of the issue with Theremin’s big showdown reminded me of the best scenes from “All-Star Superman.”
We’re not entirely sure who Theremin is yet, but with fleeting moments of character development in his genius we’ve come to see a flawed man with strong drive. Pires has crafted tight scripts that allow for only the pure cream of the storytelling to remain. Which pushes the comic to a new level by the end of third issue.
At this point Pires and Rose have completely found their jam. Their relationship pushes through the page to create something truly and wholly unique that could only exist within the pages of a comic book. All too often stories are compromised for hopes of adaptations into other mediums. “Theremin” happens to be a total feast for the eyes while managing to go balls to the wall with its premise exploiting some of the best properties of the medium to express itself in a completely unique fashion. For the insanely low price of $0.99 I can’t really recommend it enough.
Rating: 4/5 Skulls