Newuniversal Vol. 1: Everything Went White
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Cover Price $19.99; Available Now
Warren Ellis gives us his re-imagining of Marvel 80′s New Universe line of comics, and having never read those comics, I came to this fairly fresh. I have to say that it largely works, with some interesting characters, and some gorgeous art from Salvador Larroca, who along with the colorist Jason Keith creates a painted, very realistic style. Ellis uses some of his stand by story elements, but also does some different stuff with them. The biggest problem is that this is a lot of set up, and who knows when the series will be continued.
The time is now, but this is a slightly altered universe, which Ellis clues us into by showing that John Lennon is still alive but Paul McCartney was killed, and also there’s a female President. Everything is pretty much normal until something happens which gives four people special powers. The phenomenon is called “The White Event” due to the fact that the sky turns white across the entire world. The event occurred because the universe has reached a crossroad of space-time which signals great change, both scientifically and sociologically. The four main characters are given powers to help the world transition into this new state. However, the government is afraid of these people, and has protocols in place to kill them should they meet each other.
The four people chosen are given powers corresponding to a name and a specific task. Justice, who monitors peace and can see the crimes that people commit, goes to a committed police officer who goes a bit crazy after gaining the powers. Nightmask, who communicates with the universe, is given to a young woman who doesn’t believe at first but comes to accept her role the most. Star Brand is a protector with defensive powers, and those powers go to a young man. Unfortunately, his girlfriend is next to him when he gains the powers, and she is incinerated by the event. The boy is arrested for murder, but ends up escaping. Finally, Spitfire communicates between man and machine. This power goes to a woman who is working on a robot that will be used to hunt down the super-powered individuals, and comes to realize that her powers have allowed her to create the one thing that can kill her.
Ellis has created some interesting characters here, and given them some unique motivations. He does fall back on some of his standard plot elements in his sci-fi work (alternate dimensions, universal awareness) but has put enough change on them to be interesting, and to be fair they’re fairly standard across all sci-fi stories. He also falls into the old decompression mold, with not a whole lot happening in these six issues, and a lot of things repeated. It’s a style that works for some people, but drives other people nuts. It largely works for me, especially reading it in trade, but I could see it being annoying in the monthly. This is a story that begs to be freed of the monthly scheduled and just released in one big chunk.
Larroca, along with colorist Jason Keith, creates a great look for the book. There’s a very realistic tone to the work, which is good for this story. The effects are really nice, especially when Justice and Star Brand use their powers. Justice uses these things that look like stakes of white energy, and uses them in pretty brutal manner. The characters are a bit flat when it comes to emotion though, and it’s hard to get a feel for what’s going on with them. The panel progression works well though and the story is easy enough to follow.
I’ll look forward to the next collection though. Hopefully, Larroca’s upcoming work on Spider-Man won’t keep him from returning to this and they can get the second story done quickly. It’d be a shame to only see this first collection and not get the whole story. Hopefully the time off doesn’t kill the momentum of the story, as apparently the second arc should be starting early next year.