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Incarnate #1

Posted: Monday, August 3, 2009
By: Matthew Brady

Nick Simmons
Nick Simmons, Matt Dalton (i)
Radical Publishing
EDITOR's NOTE: Incarnate #1 will be in stores August 5.

Is Radical the new Virgin Comics? The latter publisher seemed to derive most of its content from attaching celebrities’ names to its various series, presumably in an attempt to get recognition from Hollywood and sell movie rights to their properties. Radical has something similar going on here, with the famous name being that of Nick Simmons, the son of KISS frontman Gene Simmons and apparently a “co-star” on the family’s reality TV show. But instead of simply lending his name and a basic idea to the project, Simmons the Younger is doing the full deal, both writing and drawing this mini-series. It’s a level of commitment that bodes well for the quality of the project, seeming like a labor of love rather than a development property.

But is it any good? Well, it depends on your tolerance for bloodiness and goth archetypes, with a story about an immortal race of vampiric monster people dwelling on the fringes of society and apparently being hunted, possibly by one of their own. The protagonist (if you can call him that, since he’s a bloodthirsty, amoral killer) is a young man (in appearance only) named Mot, who we first meet as he is dismembering and devouring a homeless person, complaining via internal narrative about being awoken from some sort of hibernation. We follow him as he meets up with some other members of his race, who seem to be unkillable and unaging and must feast on the flesh of the living for sustenance. They’ve all been woken because some sort of threat has formed, with a secret society of monster-hunting humans supposedly having found a method of killing them and actually presenting a danger for the first time in their existence. Will they be able to band together and survive, especially when their meeting place is stormed by a squad of soldiers that can actually harm them?

It’s an interesting enough premise, even if it doesn’t really lead to much in this first issue (which, in the format that Radical has adopted for their releases, is about 40 pages long). Most of the time is spent establishing the race of immortals and their situation, although we do get an action scene involving the soldiers that’s fairly well executed. The main problem is that everybody is pretty unlikable--Mot is established as an evil murderer on the first page, and he shows no indication of changing his ways throughout. A compatriot seems a bit more personable, but he’s an assassin who also happens to snack on human flesh, so we’re not really on his side either. And everybody else is cannon fodder, except a villain who seems to be pretty much exactly the same as the rest of them. It’s a pretty unappealing cast, so with nobody to root for, we’re not left with much but to hope for a lot of gory violence.

We do get that at least. Simmons uses a manga style here that works pretty well, lending on oddly bright and somewhat colorful atmosphere to such a dark story. The character designs work well (the pointy teeth that all the immortals are shown to have are especially disconcerting), and there are some decent flourishes, like the bad guy’s bony scythe and the weapons that Mot ends up using. The action is dynamic and exciting, with plenty of splattered blood to keep the attention focused. It’s certainly not a bad-looking book at all, although much of it does seem to be aping Japanese comics, from the big eyes and shaggy hairstyles to the thin waisted, doll-like women.

If Simmons can flesh things out a bit more in future chapters, possibly making us understand the backstory of these demons/gods a bit better, the whole thing might hang together a bit better, but even if he just focuses on action for the remaining page count, this should be a diverting, viscerally entertaining series. It won’t be much more than that though. The copycat style does tend to evoke an “I’ve seen this before” response. Let’s see if he can bring something a bit more unique than that.



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