By Eric Stephenson, Dave Taylor, Emi Lenox, Jordie Bellaire, fonografiks
It’s hard to believe that not only has the once red hot comic, Nowhere Men, returned but that it’s return isn’t heralded with more fan-fare. Until you read the issue that is.
2 years ago, Nowhere Men was far and away my favorite comic. I thought it was strange and new and exciting, exactly what I wasn’t getting from the superhero books at the big two. Then, as the series went on, it introduced these characters with weird powers and was getting a little more difficult to follow along with shipping delays. It’s something I’ve experienced more now with all the time I spend reviewing comics, but back then it was crushing for me.
Maybe Nowhere Men isn’t as good as I thought it was when I read those early issues. Indeed, the series that Stephenson did in its hiatus I absolutely loathed. So when it came time to read this issue, I walked into my local comic shop on a Friday and bought it (which would never have happened any time during those first 6 issues release. If it wasn’t mid-Wednesday afternoon it was sold out until the next printing). Without re-reading the first 6 issues, I got the experience other non-obsessive readers would get.
I remember fragments from before, the satellite crash, the airplane disaster, the mutant powers and deadly virus, the long-standing feud and enticing back-matter. I know Dade Ellis is important but not why exactly, but I don’t understand what Emerson Strange’s daughter has to do with the plot. Two years has not helped the narrative of this book. Little things in the plot feel sort of like Stephenson is trying to catch the book up to today’s standards, like the Hickman-esque chart on the back cover. Mostly there’s a feeling of disconnect reading this, unlike when I would wait 2-4 years for a new Harry Potter novel.
For Dave Taylor’s part, he does a convincing job keeping the overall “look” of the series despite original artist Nate Bellegarde no longer being involved. The art doesn’t have the same dimension but has almost the same pencils and ink. A huge part of this is Bellaire’s continued involvement as colorist, re-enforcing the bridge to the past. Emi Lenox’s art pages resemble what we might see in Marvel’s Hawkeye or other indie inspired books. Nowhere Men itself, looks more like other Image series that have followed it like Trees or We Stand on Guard.
Which may be the problem Nowhere Men has in that in two years other books have surpassed it, creatively speaking. It doesn’t feel quite as fresh now with so many other sci-fi books on the stand and great artists spread out across the industry with diverse styles.
The two year wait may be giving me a strong bias, but I don’t think it’s wrong to expect a comic that was delayed that long to up it’s game a little and try to win back fans. There’s no recap page, the chart on the back seems very incomplete (one character is shown twice for some reason) and the story is picking up threads that were being sidelined in the previous issues. In short I don’t know what this issue was trying accomplish. A big reveal that I’d been waiting for since the end of issue one left me feeling apathetic.
Nowhere Men #7 comes with a lot of baggage, isn’t new reader friendly and simply acts as if the past 2 years didn’t happen. It’s not that I wanted a big “#1” plastered on the cover, or two pages of paragraphs to catch me up on what happened. What I would’ve liked is for Stephenson to use the time he had to really reevaluate this series and think about how to improve it. I don’t feel as if that was the case. However if Stephenson can’t appease the preexisting readers of this series I don’t know what hope it has of continuing to its planned conclusion.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent