Comic Vine Review


Brilliant #1


Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley team up once again, giving a new look at superpowers. Being a creator-owned title, you know there won't be anything holding the two back.

A new series set in its own universe taking on the notion of superpowers in a world where they don't exist. After a phenomenal run on Ultimate Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley are back together to show us what they're made of.

The Good

It's always great being able to read a comic series from the very beginning. With Brilliant, you don't need to know about any other comics. This is the absolute perfect jumping on point for readers looking to try something different. With Bendis and Bagley on board, we have a good idea what to expect. With no costumes and a more mature atmosphere (language and mood), Brilliant immediately shows it's going to be different from Ultimate Spider-Man.

The basic premise is we're introduced to a group of college students that are friends. In this world, superpowers only exist in fiction. What happens if this group of students figures out a way to create superpowers? Before anyone makes the comparison, this isn't going to be like HEROES (the TV show). From just one issue, you can tell the idea is going in a different direction.

The way we're introduced to the main characters is...brilliant. We see their name as they first appear on the page. There's a little bit seen and we can bet that they'll be playing a big role soon. There's also the sense of mystery as we don't know the background on everyone. This adds to the suspense as we have to wait and see how everyone interacts with each other and what their personalities are like.

Bendis is known for sometimes having a bit of dialogue in his books. We do have some of that here which is essential in getting to know all the players. It's also great seeing Bagely's art on a book that isn't completely full of comic book action. The challenge in drawing an issue like this is to make each page and panel stand out. Capturing the different facial expressions gives the conversations a real feeling. Bagley uses little details like shifting a person's eyes as they listen to the person talking next to them.

Don't get the wrong idea, the comic isn't just 40 pages of people talking. There is some action and we do get an idea of what we can expect in terms of superpowers in this world.

The Bad

There is a lot of set up in this issue. That goes without saying. You can't know have set up in the very first issue of a brand new series. It might be that I've been so curious about this series since it was first announced back in March and immediately got sucked in. But considering the extra length of the comic and all the dialogue, I still felt like it was short. In other words, I want more.

This is a mature title. Part of me wonders if it's necessary. This issue does contain some profanity and there is a party at a college dorm. It does allow for a more realistic look at the lives of college kids. I'm not sure what future issues will hold but I don't think the profanity and scenes of student's holding beer bottles enhanced the issue. This rating will prevent some readers from being able to read it. Then again, maybe Bendis and Bagley have some really crazy ideas, fully requiring a MR rating, in store for us.

The Verdict

It's always fun to read a brand new comic series. Having it turn out to be a great read is a bonus. As a fan of both Bendis and Bagely, the idea of the two on a creator-owned book is refreshing. From the way the series has been described, they have big things planned. We're always looking for a new series to read and because this is a completely new comic world, anyone can jump right into this issue. The idea of superpowers not existing until a group of college kids discovers a way to create them ins intriguing. You can imagine things won't necessarily go smoothly. I can't wait to see how Bendis and Bagley explore this notion.

Because it's a creator-owned title and has a mature rating, there is potential to take this in a direction not often seen in regular comics. I do question the need for a mature rating. It'll be great to see the series not have to hold back but it does prevent younger readers from being able to read the comic (in theory). This issue contained some profanity and alcohol but neither were truly essential for the comic. Since we're dealing with college-age kids, the idea makes some sense.

Bendis introduces us to the cast of characters in his usual way and Bagely shows his ability to capture the mood and expression of the different individuals. Bendis and Bagley are back together and the excitement and enthusiasm shows in the first issue. This will be a series I'm going to enjoy reading and even the over-sized issue wasn't enough to satisfy my Bendis/Bagley cravings. I loved their run on Ultimate Spider-Man but this is completely different. Seeing how they approach this series in a different manner will be a fun ride.