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The Remnant #1
posted December 11, 2008
Stephen Baldwin, Andrew Cosby, Caleb Munroe, Julian Totino Tedesco, Andres Lozano, Ed Dukeshire
BOOM! Studios, comic book, 24-32 pages, December 2008, $3.99
So I get this e-mail from the nice folks at BOOM! asking me to download a PDF of The Remnant
#1 and consider it for review. What piqued my interest was the e-mail's suggestion that I might have declined to do this the first time I was asked because of my negative reaction to a name that appears on the cover. (Actually, I was probably drunk and deleted all of my e-mail again.) So I opened up the PDF and the only names I saw were Stephen Baldwin and Andrew Cosby. It can't be the Eureka
guy. Everyone likes that show: it's adorable, and it has Joe Morton. So it had to be Baldwin. Do people hate Stephen Baldwin now? I don't. He's like tied for my third-favorite Baldwin (from a list excluding Adam and James). I googled Baldwin's name and saw that he's involved in Christian ministries now, but that's a positive thing. Good for him. Just to be safe, I activated my Praydar and looked for obnoxious Christian storytelling tropes in the comic book. The only one I could find, and this is a maybe, was an insistence on the overwhelming hotness of the marriage being depicted. While that's an element of Christian storytelling, it's not limited to that kind of entertainment. Besides, as seen below they start to do it in front of their picture window, which is hardly Christian at all. Future issues may have some sort of theme that bends towards the cross, but I had no problems with it on the basis that BOOM! suggested. I felt strangely cheated.
They also promised this was one of their better efforts. And it sort of does work on the "forgettable genre comic book" basis. The individual scenes are paced with confidence, and I thought the art by Julian Totino Tedesco was generally attractive. The story feels generic and very much aware of its own reality as a pulp narrative, but that's not uncommon, and I think most people forgive that. There's an ease to the comic that's commendable; it's like a half-hour television show made by pros. I guess that's sort of the point.
It may also be the root of its problems. When you do a comic book that seems so easily translatable into film and television, the things film and television does very well begin to expose the comic as unsatisfactory when it comes to aping those elements. The dropped backgrounds make you remember how much a well-dressed set adds to atmosphere. You notice when a sidewalk leading up to a house is as wide as a driveway, and you feel lost when the creators fail to establish a strong sense of specific place. Your eyes squint when a federal building bombing is attended to by what seems like fewer officials then cordon off the street here in Silver City when there's a semi-severe car wreck, and you get that Gary Coleman look in your eye when the event isn't on every single news channel. When a guy is let go from the hospital the same day after being brought there unconscious, it's curious, and when the first words out of a bombing victim's mouth aren't "What the heck happened?" it just seems wrong. Actors have compensating virtues when it comes to suspension of belief. They're real, they have a natural physicality, they bring an incalculable number of tics and idiosyncrasies to the table. This comic misses all of those things, and seems exposed for it. For the main plot to compensate in future issues, it's going to have to have the kick of a football-playing mule. I'm not confident it will.