Friday, October 01, 2010

Review: Negation vol 1 - Bohica!

What happens if you mix Star Trek, Galaxy Quest, superheroes and throw in an evil Empire for good measure? It could have been a mess, but instead it's a story full of all the fun things you'd hope that kind of mish-mash of genres might produce. My interest in CrossGen books was recently rekindled by the knowledge that Marvel has some plans to revive some of these titles. I had previously loved Scion (a very Star Wars friendly/influenced comic) but wasn’t really taken with Sigil (a harder scifi story). Negation is a book that I’ve often heard spoken of highly by those who have more exposure to CrossGen than me, and once I realized it was drawn by Paul Pelletier (who was recently on Guardians of the Galaxy) I knew I’d be giving it a try. But in struggling to read the first two issues, I had a sinking suspicion this book was going to fall on the side of CrossGen books I don’t really enjoy…right before things turned around completely. Negation is actually the name of an Empire, or collection of races (for you Star Trek fans, think the Dominion) who have taken over an entire Universe – just not “our” universe. What they’ve discovered is that in our universe, there are some people who’ve been marked with sigils which grant them superpowers, so the Negation has plucked them out of our universe to study them and determine the origin of their powers as well as the threat they pose. They manage to pick up a number of races that stretch across a few different CrossGen books (from the Atlantians of CRUX to the lizard-race from Sigil) as well as one of the First (the gods of CrossGen, or the people behind the sigil powers in the first place). So what’s wrong with the first two issues (really the prequel and chapter 1)? The prequel is essentially a dream sequence – or to use the Star Trek comparison some more (and there’s even more coming later) a holodeck training sequence. These characters (from our universe) don’t know where they are, only that they’re being tested – and they want to fight back against their captors. But once they discover where they really are… well, the issue just sort of ends there. Issue #1 is really told via flashback from the perspective of one of the Negation reporting to his superior on the state of the testing. It was an unfortunate storytelling choice – one I was immediately bored with (especially after the prologue) making things feel like they were going nowhere. Yet things really take off once the prisoners decide to riot, led by Kaine – a military captain who seems to always be thinking just a few steps ahead of his captors. He devises a plan of escape, knowing that the Negation is listening to everything he says to his fellow prisoners and purposefully misleading them. Still, the Negation is constantly full of surprises – willing to eradicate an entire planet in order to ensure the test subjects do not escape captivity. Yet a few of them do – some by means of a stolen spaceship, others by means of teleportation to a passing vessel – one that seems inspired by Star Trek (or Galaxy Quest). These two factions will continue to have some mad-cap adventures separately across a few different worlds as they seek to return to our universe, just as the Negation continues to plot to retrieve them – or end their lives. I’ll liken this book to a number of other things – it’s a bit like the current Guardians of the Galaxy with its superheroic cosmic adventures mixed with a dash of humor (Kaine yells Bohica! when things go bad – a running joke that’s not explained to the reader until a few issues in when he says it stands for “Bend over, here it comes again”). It’s also a bit like Star Trek, which is admittedly a series I enjoy. So if you like the sound of those things mashed together, I’d certainly recommend checking out this series. It went from a series I was bored with early on, and rose to be probably my second favorite CrossGen title (after Scion) – one that I hope sees a resurrection from Marvel soon.


Charles Gramlich said...

That sounds really interesting. I'm going to look for this.

Budd said...

Is it bad that when I read the first sentence I thought of the Shi'ar empire.