Story: Jeff Lemire, Emi Lenox
Art: Emi Lenox
What They Say:
A brand new heartfelt super-hero series by JEFF LEMIRE (DESCENDER, Hawkeye) and amazing newcomer EMI LENOX! PLUTONA follows the story of five suburban kids who make a shocking discovery while exploring the woods one day after school…the body of Plutona, the world’s greatest superhero. A dark and heartbreaking journey about friendship and coming of age all through the lens of the superhero genre.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having enjoyed a number of Jeff Lemire’s works before, I was certainly curious to see what he would come up with in working with Emi Lenox. The Plutona miniseries is one that you can certainly chalk up as being a superhero version of Stand by Me in a lot of ways but what makes that property work are the characters. And that’s what has to work here in order for it to be its own thing even while playing to something a little familiar. We’ve seen more superhero worlds and universes than I can count at this point in reading and writing about comics but there’s always something fun about exploring a new one. This one doesn’t spend its time with the capes though, for the bulk of it, and instead focuses on the kids that exist within all of it.
What Plutona wants to do here with the bulk of its first issue is introduce us to the five kids that make it up. It’s through them that we get a few nods to the world, or least the small city where some capes exist and deal with random villains causing problems, but it’s all kept off panel and just talked about either through the radio or the cast. This provides a little distance for the characters to the capes and reminds us that it’s all about them. There are familiar types to be had here, with Teddy being interested in following the costumed heroes as a capespotter to Mie, the older sister who is all about being cool and having to struggle with taking care of her younger brother at the moment. She’s best friends with Diane, someone that she unconsciously takes advantage of and who herself struggles with her body image issues. Adding a bit more conflict to the group that sort of exists here is that of Ray, a young man whose father basically is introduced as a drunkard that’s passed out. He takes that out on everyone else, which certainly makes him difficult to be around for most people.
Nearly all of this book is about introducing them, their time in school and how they hang out afterwards a bit with the kind of familiar teenage series of interactions. Even though I haven’t been in school in decades I can easily connect with all of this because I had the same kinds of experiences with others that all have their own troubled lives that aren’t always on the surface. It’s all quite interesting in how it comes together even as it plays to some of the more mundane aspects of teenage life. That’s a big credit to the writing and artwork that even as it works this very familiar angle that it’s engaging to watch it play out. So when it hits that end piece with one of the lesser visible heroes of the area dead on the ground in front of them as they stumble across her in the woods, you’re left wondering exactly how it’s all going to play out.
What also works well is that we get a bit of a backup feature here after the main book that plays out like an old school comic book within it where we get the Plutona character herself. This gives us a little time with her, though it’s not clear how much it relates to the actual body that’s been found, but it has something about it that’s really fun in just a few pages for showing the troubled life of the character and what she does. With it taking a slightly different art style here from the main book it also separates itself in a good way. Getting to know who Plutona is outside of just a dead body or being talked about by others helps to humanize her more and definitely draws you into how the kids will deal with.
Plutona offers up some potential here with what it wants to do but it’s the kind of book where it’ll take the second issue to really make or break it. Most of what we get here is very familiar in terms of story and the execution is done in a solid way but if not for the cape aspect of it there’s nothing that really sets it apart at the moment. But Lemire and Lenox do a solid job of building interesting and familiar characters of the age they’re at, which means even though there’s not a lot to them they’re still pretty accessible and open to potential with how they’ll react to the situation. I’m definitely enjoying Lenox’s artwork here as it’s pretty appropriate for it as something more realistic would feel out of place. With this being only four issues it’s definitely a small investment of time and money and the quality of the work is definitely there to pull it off. But I’m reserving judgment until we get a bit more out of it as the first installment is mostly just a tease.
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Image Comics
Release Date: September 2nd, 2015