Written by: Eric Stephenson
Art by: Simon Gane & Jordie Bellaire
Syd is still learning to control her powers while also dispensing some street justice in the process. They’re Not Like Us #3 continues the development of the new recruit in the house of young gifted people whose mantra comes from their cynical leader The Voice. The question is what does it all mean and where is it headed?
It opens up with a one-sided brutal bare-knuckle brawl between Syd and Gruff in some kind of odd training exercise. The training goes outdoors and a busy public space where Syd has to block out the voices in her head and concentrate. It’s something we’ve seen countless times before where a superhero protege is learning to use his powers and through trial and error becomes more competent. There’s usually a higher purpose behind it that drives their desire to fully understand their capabilities. The purpose is what I find lacking in this title.
The Voice reiterates his world view as everyone who isn’t gifted like them are useless sheep. And while some of that may be true it covers the same ground that we’ve seen up to this point. Having these great powers is wonderful but what’s the group’s endgame or goal? Sure, they can identify a child predator on the street and beat him to a pulp which is justified but to what end? Will they spend the rest of the series searching out bad guys to punish?
It’s those type of questions that linger as you read the book because the set-up is slow and as necessary it is to train Syd where are we headed? To be fair, there are some great elements including Syd as a young and willing student trying to gain control of her powers that otherwise cause her a lot of pain. She’s an empathetic figure, but she’s also starting to indulge in the same behavior and adopting the same arrogant mantra as the others.
Despite these lingering questions about where the story is going is the superior art by Simon Gane and Jordie Bellaire. No duo in comics does a better job with exteriors than Gane and Bellaire. The attention to detail in every leaf on a tree, every window on every building and the diverse assembly of character designs for a crowded sidewalk full of people is a lesson in masterful pencilling. Bellarie infuses these scenes with a varied and bright palette of colors that pop and distinguish the characters perfectly.
They’re Not Like Us #3 is daring but flawed. It condemns a shallow society but doesn’t advance the story to make us care for these gifted people. They don’t have to be likable, and they’re not so far, but what is their higher purpose? And who are these people? No one outside of Syd has been developed.
Going into the make-or-break issue four I hope to see some more character development and a larger sense of where the book is going. The execution is great, but the substance needs more fleshing out. I want to like this title more, but I need more concrete reasons than the cynical premise and beautiful art.