Next up in our Hiatus week cures is the first Supernatural comic book series “Supernatural: Origins”. It finished not long ago and the collected trade paperback recently became available for purchase.
First of all, the obvious question: should you buy the TPB or try for the entire series separately? Besides the obvious points about pricing and availability (the individual books are probably going to be harder and more expensive to find), there is the issue of continuity errors. For those who don’t know, the original comic showed John Winchester getting the Impala as a sign of his transition into the hunters’ world. Of course, any fan knows that from the beginning, the Impala has been there for the boys and was always a part of the family. The TPB edition of Origins fixed this problem. Thus, I recommend the TPB in an effort to avoid continuity headaches. (although there is one more which I will address should I ever get a working scanner)
Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the thing. It is a comic book, so that means we have 2 points to review: the art and the writing.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the art is highly stylized. Shadows are very dramatic, and their placement heightens the differences in people’s faces as much as noses, ears and hair. I think this was actually a good idea as one common problem with comic books based on live properties is the comparison of the drawings to the person they represent (especially Buffy/Angel comics). And let’s face it, unless you’re Alex Ross, no one is going to get their sketches to look like the person. So it was a smart idea for this book to head in the opposite direction to get out of the uncanny valley. By making the drawings almost caricatures of the actors, readers are more able to accept that this guy is John and that guy is Caleb. This style also plays well with scenery. The spooky places truly fill you with dread. The two page spread labeled “the inferno” is almost worth the price of the book alone. There are really only two complaints about the artwork. First, it does not work well in small/tight panels, especially those designed to highlight details. In a few places, it’s a challenge to figure out what is supposed to be happening. The second, is that eyes are so often shadowed – unseen. Now they art will show us a character’s eyes in dramatic moments, but this isin a universe where the eyes often function as a clue to identity (shapeshifter silver, demons of black, yellow and red, etc). Thus, readers are often left without the story hints that we need and which would greatly tighten the plot.
Speaking of which, what about the plot? Well first let me say, that the writer has excellent style. Most of the story is told from John’s perspective and the thought boxes flow smoothly into the dialog and back. You get to see the process of John moving from the world he knew to the dark shadows underneath all that. All in all it does pretty well showing us that important time in the Winchesters’ lives in the immediate aftermath of Mary’s death.
However, there are a few problems with it. One major one being pages 61 & 62 where John goes from thinking “I’m not a killer. I’m not a killer. I’m not a…” etc to “I’m a killer. I’m a killer.” etc. What takes the wind out of this dramatic moment’s sails is the repeated fact (both within the show and in this very comic) that John is a trained Marine. Now I could be wrong, but I’m quite sure that the Marines train people to be killers. Would that the scene had reinforced the back-story of John’s training and expressed the turning point differently.
Also, the story just kind of ends with no solid resolution of the central mystery. I can’t even put up a spoiler warning because there’s nothing to spoil. Considering that it ties into a show that works hard to tie everything together (unlike say… the x-files that drags mysteries out way too long), it’s a bit of a letdown. It might all be the YED, but it would have been nice to have been given an extra clue that it was.
Still, this is a pretty good story for fans to pick up. It’s the closest we’ll ever come to having a show where Jeffery Dean Morgan kicks supernatural ass. I’ll have to give this one:
(out of 5)
Hardcore fans should definitely pick this up.
It might not appeal to the casual viewer.
A few missteps keep it from being a 5 star classic.