Image Comics’ release of America’s Got Powers #2, written by Johnathan Ross (Turf, Former BBC Host) and drawn by artist Bryan Hitch (Stormwatch, The Authority, and Justice League America), continues a compelling story. Imagine any of your usual reality television competitions like America’s Got Talent (nice pun used to great effect) mixed with ultimate fighting or something like The Hunger Games. Ross and Hitch just add a few super-powered humans, and bang! You have an interesting allegory for corporate America.
This review focuses on being spoiler free, pending the title’s upcoming release, and focuses more on Ross’ writing and Hitch’s artwork. Having said that, I found this issue to be a fresh take on some old ideas. Ross, in the tradition of many former television hosts, has a keen eye for observing the relationship between network television and the public that adores every bit of crap churned out by the former. His time in television trained him well in seeing what can, and mostly does happen, when you put people up for viewing by a network starving for profits and an audience starved for violent entertainment.
At the heart of the story is the Watts family and its twin brothers – Tommy and Bobby. At this point in the story, Tommy and his mother are mourning Bobby’s death. Ross uses some tried and true writing techniques to build empathy and feeling for these characters. He conveys a real sense of brotherly dynamics with the way their relationship is explained. Not once does Ross let the story become too fantastical or sentimental. Each character is rendered in smart, believable ways that connect with the reader.
Ross’ plotting and dialogue are also silky smooth as the story seamlessly works along its non-linear narrative to develop a solid rhythm that takes the reader from point A to point B while dotting all of its I’s and crossing all of its T’s. It takes a lot of forethought and discipline to develop a story without plot holes or a lack of continuity.
Bryan Hitch does a fantastic job of using the right style of artwork to enhance the storytelling. Each character is rendered in a “comes off the pages” way that makes any action sequences or character interaction feel more vivid and lifelike. There is crispness to the drawing that adds a freshness to the organic nature of Ross’ writing and works well with the coloring job by Paul Mounts.
My only quibble, and it’s a really minor quibble, has to do with the layouts. Most of the time, the layouts work fine in moving the flow of the story, but there were a couple of moments that I had to stop and take a step back to re-read some pages because the flow was a bit confusing. This would only last a for a few seconds, and I would be moving back through this compelling story quite easily.
When all is said and done, Ross does a great job of setting up the climax, leaving the reader with the feeling of wanting more. The benchmark of any good story is one that keeps you coming back for more. America’s Got Powers #3 looks to be even more exciting and interesting than the preceding issues. I grade the writing and artwork a solid A. I think Ross has a fine future in comic writing. His gain is the BBC’s loss.