(Image Comics 2015)
Story by Jeff Lemire & Emi Lenox
Script by Jeff Lemire
Art by Emi Lenox
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Steve Wands
Every now and then a new comic book series comes along that totally knocks everything else out of the park for me on new comic book day. Plutona #1 is one such book, a brand new Image Comics super-hero series by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox, that tells the story of five everyday suburban kids who happen to stumble across the body of Plutona, one of the worlds superheroes, after they go exploring in the woods after school.
Most new series often go out of their way to be extra fantastic, over-the-top- or damn right gritty to grab our attention with its debut issue, however, what makes Plutona #1 stand out from the crowd is the way writers Jeff Lemire and co-writer / artist Emi Leox have gone out their way to ground everything in the reality of normal life and teen angst by simply keeping it real, transforming it into an art form, and melding it with heartfelt wonder.
Lemire and Lenox pitch the pace and tone of the issue perfectly, and Lemire’s knack for making every character seem so believable and real just spills from the page as every line of dialogue bring the characters to life. There’s a great mix of characters here as well, Ted is the cape-spotter / blogger, while Ray is a bit of a tear away, then we have Diane and her new puppy Loki, her friend Mie is really smart, popular, and tough, and Mie’s little brother, Mike, is monosyllabic and always playing videogames. All the familiar aspects of teen angst are here, but Lemire ensures it’s not piled on with a trowel, if anything the sheer ordinariness of it all makes these characters someone we can all easily relate to, and actually really care about.
Each character is given their time in the spotlight. We get to see their home life, some of its good, some endearingly sweet, others are sure to bring a wry smile to your face, and some offer insightful echoes of sadness. Its all in stark contrast to the school day, a day like any other really, but its what happens when Ted goes cape-spotting that actually brings everyone together after they’ve spent the whole day circling around each other lives without even realizing it. It is these beautifully devised ever decreasing circles of geekiness, awkwardness, insecurity, and bravado that really strikes a cord as Plutona effortlessly captures your imagination.
Emi Lenox’s art for Plutona #1 is extraordinarily beautiful, she brings a striking sense of plausibility to every nuance of Lemire’s script, and her art is the key to making this series’ marvelously endearing premise so compelling. The opening scenes alone hint at the silent tragedy beneath the serene panoramic views of the woods, before introducing us in turn to each character, with moments full of emotion, expression, and animated wide-eyed energy. The school day is a silent montage of panels that pass the hours to the beat of the clock, the kids going about their day in a mixture of boredom, laughter, and even solitude, until three o’clock and the bell rings. I really like the scene were Ray finds Ted cape-spotting, its funny, poignant, and when Mie, Diane, and Mike happen along, a chain of events is set in motion that leads them all into the woods, where they find Plutona’s body. Emi Lenox’s pencils are excellent throughout, deceptively softening the edges of the darker moments, giving them even more emotional impact, while Jordie Bellaire’s colors deliver an exquisite mix of bright hues and somber dark tones that accentuates every plot development to perfection.
Everything rapidly builds to a dark climax that neatly book ends the issue with an ominously silent scene that seems so hauntingly still you could almost hear a pin drop. Rounding off the issue we get a back story-prequel of sorts, in the shape of a Mega Comics issue of Plutona that details Plutona’s Last Adventure in Metro City, which offers an insightful and moving glimpse into Plutona’s life via the context of a comic book story itself.
In short, Plutona #1 is a great first issue; Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox have created something very special here. Sure, its not bursting with wall-to-wall super-hero action, it’s a coming of age story of heartbreak and friendship, and about as down to earth as you could possibly get in a comic book, but that’s what makes it so appealing. Essentially a mash up of the super-hero genre with Stand by Me, with a sprinkle of the Breakfast Club thrown in for good measure, Plutona will have you completely invested in these characters after only a few pages, its also one of the best new series I’ve reviewed in a while, and I can’t wait to read more.
Paul Bowler is a self-Confessed Sci-Fi Geek, Doctor Who fan, and Zombie Disposal Expert. He likes movies, comic books, and all things PS3. He likes to write about his interests, would love to write a novel one day, and also enjoys chatting to the many people he has gotten to know on Twitter. When he’s not busy being an Impossible Astronaut, he likes to take a break from his adventures in time and space to enjoy some of his favorite TV shows and movies, preferably with a nice cuppa tea & a sandwich! You can follow him on Twitter @paul_bowler, or find him at his website, Sci-Fi Jubilee.