Cryptocracy is a new series from writer Van Jensen and artist Pete Woods that explores the world of conspiracy theories, even the weird ones. The book deals with nine families that secretly run the world. Essentially, think of the "real life" Illuminati in comic book form.
The first issue pulls from a lot of different conspiracies that you can find anywhere on the Internet. It's a book that mocks the things your crazy friend from high school shares on Facebook, but puts it all into a context that fits. Is there a secret group of people running the world? Yes. Are energy drinks secretly harboring tentacle-like monsters? Yes. Is the government working with aliens? Yes. Are bugbears mistaken for werewolves? Yes. That's a bit of what you can expect.
What makes this first issue work is the tone. If a subject like this is taken too seriously, it will lose the audience. Where Jensen nails it is by keeping this relatively light while inserting the type of bizarre, sometimes dark humor that we've seen in his past work like Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer. Jensen feels completely in his element here, even with this being the most adult thing he's written thus far. It feels like it was created simply for the fun of the idea, which is perfect when you're tackling an idea like this.
Pete Woods nails the art on this opening issue. His style lends well to some of the more silly moments in the book, but at the same time, he's delivering some intense action sequences as well. His coloring gives the book an animated feel, almost as if this could be a Saturday Morning Cartoon, which I would totally watch. It's one of those times where you can sense the fun the creative team is having with the book.
The biggest and really only problem with this first issue is that it's one heck of an infodump. There is so much going on here, and in turn, it makes the book a little hard to follow. Jensen and Woods are trying to build a world that has a lot of twists and turns, and the opening offering delivers a good chunk of it. It's a large undertaking. The inside cover lays everything out of who the nine families are and what they do, which is something the reader needs to keep in mind throughout the issue. This is going to be a book that gets better with time, something readers will really start to love as the series goes on.
The opening issue of Cryptocracy is a big undertaking, delivering a whole lot of world-building within one issue. However, it feels like a labor of love and the creative team is having a fun time. The key to the first issue is that there's a ton of potential for an amazing series. While the first issue dumps a lot onto the reader, the comedic tone is the driving force which will keep readers coming back. It feels like Van Jensen and Pete Woods are both in their element. The first issue is good, and it feels like it's about to get a whole lot better.