Variables: November 2002
Written and Illustrated by Brock Beauchamp with Rachel Bendtsen
Review by Ziah Grace
While it is not an offensively bad book like Suicide Squad, Variables is still a very bad book.
The problem is that it feels unfinished, in almost all stages of the presentation – the story feels choppy where most of the pertinent information is delivered through stony faced exposition and (sigh) news reports. The art, despite a couple of nice looking panels, feels wooden and rushed while the coloring switches to weird neon colors contrary to any change in mood, and even the lettering, normally the most unobtrusive part of a comic’s production, misses easy moments to enhance the story.
But before we go in too far, let’s take this one step at a time.
The story is your usual anarchist superhero fighting against “the man”, a la V for Vendetta that takes notes from every alternate future comic since Claremont’s infamous EVERYONE DIES issue of Uncanny X-Men. The eponymous Nemesis is an urban vigilante with a design heavily reminiscent of Modern Warfare type shooters. While playing with such common genre tropes doesn’t necessarily mean a bad comic, the fact remains that a writer needs to create something new, whether through inversions of expected formulas or some level of awareness of the genre being confronted. Unfortunately, Nemesis does none of these things, and instead, wallows in cliches; so get your checklist ready!
- Does the hero save someone from a mugger?
- Does the hero talk to a small child, thus affirming his overall goodness?
- Does the hero have a troubled relationship with local law enforcement?
- Does the hero have a shadowy past that he seems intent on escaping?
- Does the hero have a nosy, but caring, neighbor that bakes him things while affirming his overall goodness?
- Is the audience given pertinent information through news reports, shadowy figures detailing events that the other person is already familiar with, or an inner monologue?
- Is the hero about to sneak into a place, only to be spotted by a small child whose mother doesn’t believe what he just saw?
Don’t worry! Nemesis has literally all of these; so far the most interesting character seems to be this dude with the sweet moustache.
That dude is straight up my hero, but unfortunately, we’re not reading about him, we’re reading about this guy.
Let’s move onto the art; it’s clear that Beauchamp is learning throughout the process of making the comic, and that’s great! His art has tiny burst of potential that show that with time and effort, he might be pretty good!
Like this; the crash is well done, showing how the weight and momentum of the body is damaging the car, as well as showing the cops’ reaction to it. Even the sound effect serves to magnify how surprising this panel is to both the reader and the characters. Unfortunately, there are also panels like this:
Speaking of those panels, let’s move onto the coloring. I admit that my familiarity with color scheme and color theory ends with the secondary colors, but c’mon guys, what is up with the coloring here? Random panels are given random background washes, seemingly to avoid drawing a background.
Finally, the lettering: I am certainly no expert in the art of comic lettering but even I can tell that this could have very easily been fixed.
Literally all you have to do is move the “Let go!” farther to the left, and the “Eh?” down and to the right, so that it seems like he’s actually reaction to the sound, and not watching himself (that’s him with the silhouette and green visor) react to the sound.
For all the problems with the comic, there really are brief moments where the potential of the creator shines through, and maybe with more practice and experience, Beauchamp could produce a quality product that isn’t just a feeble V for Vendetta rip-off. At the very least, we need more of this guy.
Soldier on, Police Officer Mario. Soldier on.