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Brilliant #1 Review

5

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.

21 Comments
Posted by Ultimate_MiracleMan

So looking forward to this, won't get it for another week though which really bites

Posted by longbowhunter

I've never been a fan of Mark Bagley's art. This may be very good, but I'm not getting invested in another Bendis creator owned series until he starts putting out Powers on a regular basis again.
Posted by Graanvlokkie

I read the review, picked up the phone, and placed this title on my pull list right away.

@longbowhunter: Does Bendis make it a habit of not putting out his creator owned work on a regular basis?

Posted by longbowhunter
@Graanvlokkie
I dont know about everything else but Powers is like stuck in neutral or something. I see it solicited every month but never see the issues come out. I'm pretty sure Scarlet is as infrequent. The guy is writing what, 8 or 9 titles now. I just wish he'd finish some stuff up before jumping on to a new idea.
Posted by webofdarkness

Been thinking of checking this out. I guess I will now.

Posted by The Impersonator

A brilliant review!

Posted by Malonius

@longbowhunter said:

I've never been a fan of Mark Bagley's art. This may be very good, but I'm not getting invested in another Bendis creator owned series until he starts putting out Powers on a regular basis again.

Bagley's a very competent artist, but he never seems to break through into that superstar level of creativity and style. Kind of like a solid NBA player that will have a good career, but never make the All-Star game.

Posted by Daveyo520

Huh, I do really like Bendis. I guess I will pick it up. I will run out of money soon :(

Posted by Malonius

ehhh...now I feel bad. There have been a few times where Bagley has jumped out at me, now that I think about it. His art always clearly tells the story and unlike the superstars he can actually meet his deadlines.

Posted by Jordanstine

Brilliant #1 is Brilliant!

Who'd a thought?

Posted by Billy Batson

Bendis gets five stars? Well now.
BB

Posted by G-Man

@The Impersonator: I tried so hard not to say anything like that in the review but I couldn't help it.

@Malonius: It's kind of weird not seeing pure 'superhero' action in a Bagley book. Then again, the beginning of Ultimate Spider-Man was similar. And he was cranking out like...13 issues a year or something. The guy's a maniac when it comes to drawing.

Staff
Posted by mikeclark1982

so are you saying i should give this a chance?

Posted by Malonius

@G-Man: Yeah...Bags is old school on discipline and work ethic. He could probably crank out 2 books a month. What always suffers is his backgrounds though (fairly generic and undetailed architecture, interior design, technology, cars, and fashion). I'm not sure he has a great sense of depth when it comes to foreground/background. His panels are kind of flat with the subject and background often being drawn with the same level of detail. This might be the problem of inkers/colorists he's worked with though.

I like his exaggerated facial expressions/body language, but he hasn't pushed that to the point of being really stylish about it. He's on the same scale between standard 80s Marvel Comics style and manga as someone like joe madureira, but Bags stays closer to the old American standard.

His superhero action is always clear and compelling, but he only occasionally pushes into the levels of intensely dynamic...though he can and has done it.

Just my opinion though. I don't think I'd pick up a book just for the Mark Bagley art, but I did have Mark Bagley Spider-man poster in the mid 90's (might have been a Wizard cover). He always draws a great Spider-man!

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

I was going to get this issue and now that I hear that is a good issue I am excited to read the issue.

Posted by goldenkey

I had no idea this was coming out. Seeing it's from Icon, and seeing what Nemisis and Kick-Ass was like without rating boundries I'm excited as hell to read this.

Posted by G-Man

@mikeclark1982: I'm saying I really dug the issue. I like Bendis and I like Bagely. I think it's a great idea seeing how they do the 'superpowers in a real world setting.' Being creator-owned, you know they are invested in the book and they've been talking about doing this for a while. I think new series are always worth checking out so you don't miss out, just in case it turns out to be something you'd love.

Staff
Posted by astrid12

I have been waiting for this since JULY...and its released now that I have no money to add more comics on my pull list...shame shame

Posted by Apothecary2

There are people who cannot buy MR books? I am 14 and I have plenty of mature readers books.

Posted by shawn87

I'm very much looking forward to this.

Posted by Danial79

As long as there's no mock interview pages, I'm in! I like Bendis' writing, but HATE those talking heads.