I must admit, my faith was wavering when it came to Indie Comics. Up to this point the comics I reviewed have ranged from disappointing to absolute waste of time. I’ve been harsh, but rightfully so. So, when Michael Nelsen dropped a press release into my inbox for his series Supernaut, I couldn’t help but feel pessimistic. I feared another bust.
Boy was I wrong.
Supernaut has to be the most refreshing comic series that I’ve read in a long time. Michael Nelsen began creating Supernaut in 2012, writing the story, creating all the artwork and lettering everything. It took him two years to chip away at this project and the end product is a beautiful work of art. The story calls upon ideas of metaphysics, theology, mythology and a lil’ bit of Joseph Campbell. One could compare it to the movie Interstellar but Supernaut still stands on its own.
A quick synopsis: Our story, begins like any trans-dimensional, space and time altering story would: in the sorta-middle. We see now enlightened astronaut, Stephen Haddon, confront the manifestation of God to ask him not to unravel reality. God tells him to buzz off. Haddon aka Supernaut, bands together with other trans-dimensional heroes and thieves to collect magical artifacts that supposedly combined would take down God.
The best thing about this series is without a doubt the art. If anyone ever says comics are not an art form, give them Supernaut. I can’t express how thoroughly impressed I am with Michael Nelsen. Nelsen is a graphic designer so it’s no surprise that each and every page is carefully crafted to fit this mind-bending story. Nelsen’s experience as a graphic designer especially comes to light when it comes to color. Each and every page is an explosion of beautiful colors in an “order-within-chaos” kind of way. No space is left a blank white and nothing appears unnecessary. The story itself challenges perceptions of reality and dimensions and the art suits this mind bending story perfectly.
When I read this story I felt like I dropped acid. Comics have always been about challenging the conventional with new and exciting ideas. I guarantee that this is some of the most unique artwork in the indie comics market. The only thing I could possibly compare it to is Neil Gaiman’s reality bending Sandman, but even that comparison is a stretch. I feel that Supernaut’s art stands apart as a truly unique entity. Brilliant use of colors paired with unique graphics and sci-fi lettering of various varieties.
As for the story, it perfectly pairs with Nelsen’s art style. The story originally was meant to be a Green Lantern-style tale, because lord knows we need another one of those. Thankfully, Nelsen evolved the story into something so much more, a deep exploration into life, metaphysics and higher existence(s). You can tell he took the time to research the physics and theology behind what makes ups life. What is a soul? Are there parallel universes? Nelsen called upon literary quotes ranging from Albert Einstein to the Bhagavad Gita. At one point he references the Wow! Signal which is an actual thing. It’s no wonder it took him 2 years to make this series, the amount of work it must have taken to compile complicated ideas and translate them into equally complicated graphic works of art must be extremely time consuming.
Despite the trippy artwork and complicated ideas, at its essence the story was fairly simple and accessible. The good guy needs to stop the bad guy and he must find certain thingsartifacts to take down said baddie. The great thing about Nelsen however was that he told this in an entirely different way. Yes, the premise is a simple one, but the journey is one wild ride. Nelsen employs ideas about time and space and applied it to his story telling method. The entire first issue is literally told backwards. Literally. I applaud him for telling this story in such a unique way.
The supporting cast might be my only negative I have to offer. Because there’s so much to cram into the story, you’re handed a brief profile of our supporting characters. This choice to introduce the characters by profile inhibited the story a bit. (I spent 5 minutes reading up about a “pheromone spy” only to learn that she gets a panel worth of action). However, with so much going on, it seemed like Nelsen’s best solution introducing the team of thieves. Perhaps he should’ve expanded his series to more than 5 issues?
You will bombarded with a lot of science. A lot. I’m sure a lot of it is inspired by actual science, but at times it struck me as heavily padded dialogue and narration. Most of the time it would be fascinating, other times simply draining.
“It stores coded information in its plasma substrate…and transmits by trans-space and quantum interference.” -Supernaut #3, about a room in a tower.
Science fiction readers will love this amount of detial. Some comic book fans will appreciate Nelsen’s diligence to flavor the text and make the science integral, others won’t. Regular readers with gloss over it and still enjoy the overall story. Despite how you feel about it (tell me below) I think it fits with the world Nelsen has build but it’s a little too heavy.
Overall, Nelsen has restored my faith in independent comics. His two year project resulted in some of the most beautiful works of art ever to grace the indie scene. That paired with carefully researched science and savvy storytelling resulted in a successful miniseries. If you are a sci-fi lover or have an appreciation for graphic design and art I highly recommend this book. If you are a casual comic book reader, I still recommend this book.
I eagerly await the conclusion!
Ragnarok n’ Roll