Thanks to their emphasis on creator-owned titles Image Comics have truly become the publisher to watch, putting on the shelves comic books which are remarkably different and varied compared to the standard superhero series brought out by the big two. Their latest offering comes from Image Publisher Eric Stephenson who steps into the creative arena with They’re Not Like Us #1, a series which shows the actions of those different to society in general. Will this be yet another terrific feather in Image’s varied cap, or will it be just too different to accept?
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Eric Stephenson
Artists: Simon Gane (Pencils), Jordie Bellaire (Inker), Infographiks (letterer)
Price: £1.99/$2.99 from ComiXology and the Image Comics Store
They’re Not Like Us #1 tells the story of Syd, a young lady suffering with voices in her head, to which everyone else has put down to illness. However, Syd finds this is not the case when she is saved by an egnimatic stranger who reveals to her that she is not ill, she’s special. And she’s is not alone. Now, given a new home and a new name, Syd is given the opportunity to gain control over her newly-realised gifts and use them, along with her similiarly special new group of ‘friends’, as she sees fit to get herself whatever she wants in life. But will Syd be enticed by such an offer and join this group who feel that they deserve better because, when it comes to everybody else, ‘they’re not like us’.
With They’re Not Like Us, Eric Stephenson seems to present, on the surface at least, a story about an inverted X-men type of group with multiple young, super-powered characters and a protective mentor who all have a much more hedonistic lifestyle, instead of wishing to be superheroes. Stephenson writes a very alluring story which pulls the reader in (much the same as it does for Syd), who as the new ‘recruit’ is the audiences path in to this new world. Though not all are given time to shine, characters like The Voice, Maisie and Loog themselves are all incredibly charming and likeable, which is a good thing as the book’s one flaw seems to be that Syd is too easily swayed by what this group is selling within such a short time. Fortunately the various well-written characters do go some way to make the plot hole less of an issue and over time this may become less obvious. (As it often does with superhero origins!)
Art wise, Simon Gane puts up some really top notch work within these first two issues, creating a kind of hipster style that most of characters exhibit and adding to the charm of the persuasive ‘Voice’. However, it is Jordie Bellaire’ ink which really make the panels shine as her work not only gives Gane’s hipster style more texture, but also allows some of the later panels to exhibit a very 60’s vibe, implying the more selfish, hedonistic tone of the story.
While the first issue could cause readers to take or leave this book, reading it with the second instalment really shows off the intelligent story and the great talent bringing it to the page as the stories build and flesh out well. By the end of issue #2 you genuinely care about Syd’s decision and the direction of where the book is heading, meaning we cannot wait for issue #3 to find out more.