Review | ‘Catalyst Prime: Noble’ #1
Lion Forge Comics
Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Roger Robinson
Colorist: Juan Fernandez
Catalyst Prime has begun! One year after "The Event", missing astronaut David Powell has resurfaced! With dangerous new abilities and no memory of the man he once was. While desperately trying to regain his identity David quickly finds himself a man on the run from shadowy forces as well as his forgotten past.
May 3, 2017
- Dynamic Panel Progression
- Cinematic Storytelling
- An Interesting and Engaging Cliffhanger
- Muddled Panels Are Sometimes Difficult to Understand
- Stilted, Unnatural Dialogue
As one of the smaller independent presses, Lion Forge Comics is not very well known. Most of their line up consists of comics based on popular 80s franchises (as well as a few not-so-popular). As of recently, though, they are jumping into the super hero game, starting with the release of Catalyst Prime: Noble, a prelude to their upcoming Catalyst Prime universe.
The premise behind Catalyst Prime is that a massive asteroid is heading to Earth and only 5 astronauts are able to stop it. It’s a fairly straight forward premise, one that leaves a lot of room to work with. We’ll learn more about what they’re calling “The Event” on Free Comic Book Day when Lion Forge gives out copies of Catalyst Prime: The Event. From there, the Catalyst Prime universe will slowly unfold in seven monthly comic books. One of these is Catalyst Prime: Noble, which focuses on David Powell, one of the astronauts involved in The Event and what becomes of him in the following year.
The main cast of Noble is only two characters, the aforementioned David and his wife, Astrid. Writer Brandon Thomas was wise to structure the introductory chapter like this as it made it easy to follow. Being new characters, we don’t know much about the kind of people David and Astrid are, so throwing a wide cast at new audiences may become confusing and alienate readers. By paring that down to two, especially two who are so closely tied together, Thomas create a far simpler reading experience while getting the most out of the story.
Most of the issue focuses on David, who has no idea who he is but shows some powerful telekinetic abilities, being pursued by a specialized military team. Everything is left ambiguous; we don’t know why David’s on the run, why these men are chasing him, or who the mysterious “she” is that sent them. It’s a well written, well paced scene that’s enhanced by Roger Robinson’s art.
What I like most about the art is Robinson’s style. He uses a lot of lines, most especially in his figures and when indicating motion. It’s very different from a lot of the more mainstream comics and lends the book a gritty feeling. I use “gritty” as it’s supposed to mean; coarse and dirty, not dark and broody as it’s become to be known. Which I mean as a compliment. The scene involved David being chased by a group of large men through a sandy, desert town. One word that should be used to describe this is “gritty.”
The panel progression is very cinematic. From the very first page we get a slow zoom out from Astrid’s wedding ring as she sits nervously in a waiting room. This transitions to a flashback of not long before, revealing the reason she’s nervous. That lasts less than a page before we return to the present moment, when Astrid is given terrible news and breaks down in tears. Three pages is all it takes to recap her harrowing experience losing her husband in The Event and it’s all that’s needed. Wonderful work by both Thomas and Robinson.
I also loved the end twist. It’s a pretty big reveal that most writers would dangle in front of readers, dropping little clues here and there through subsequent issues in order to keep them on the hook. But Thomas tells us up front at the end of the issue who is masterminding the hunt for David. It’s a great reveal because it opens so many more questions that entice readers to come back without resorting to clichés and cheap tricks.
As a fan of super heroes, it’s nice to break away from the worlds of Marvel and DC, which are steeped in so much history that it’s often difficult to keep up. Catalyst Prime offers a reprieve from that, with strong characters that we get to see evolve and grow in real time. It’s also great to see a comic so deftly blend the techniques of filmmaking into its storytelling. I hadn’t heard much about Catalyst Prime before reading Noble but now I’m definitely looking to go deeper into the universe.