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Subj: Aaron Lopresti's Power Cubed...
Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 at 02:53:42 pm EDT (Viewed 313 times)
The fundamentals to the concept of Independent publishing is that it is an umbarella description for fan made ventures. An area of publishing where anyone with an idea they believe in has a chance to see it realised in pen and ink and hopefully an audience to judge its worth.
Artists who take to writing their own material for publication used to be a common feature in mainstream comics, these days the Dan Jurgens, John Byrne's and Jim Starlin's of the mainstream press are a rare thing to see, but in the Independent arena at least that spirit and talent still thrives unimpeded and the results of their enthusiasm and craft can frequently be rather excellent to read in this purity of vision, unhindered by corporate meddling and necessities risks can be taken and established practices set aside in favor of being different. Offering an alternative to the conservative mainstream
So when Aaron Lopresti first announced his own venture coming from Darkhorse Comics and the first promotional images came online it presented me with some intriguing temptations as Lopresti's work looked rather exciting and energetic, the sales pitch offered forth enough to gain my curiosity, and while noteworthy for his work at Marvel and DC Comics Aaron Lopresti himself is nevertheless enough of an unknown quantity to make the whole enterprise worth a look - because it might just surprise and delight.
When an established creator known best as being an artist suddenly takes to writing his own material the pressures on them to succeed must be absolutely murderous, whether it be superstars George Perez and Bryan Hitch or the relatively obscure Aaron Lopresti the pressure to make their first efforts good is a make-or-break affair, if the audience don't rate your first try, or your second, then that's the end of that. The dream is over. For Power Cubed Lopresti has to have not just a good idea as the basis for his debut book but a distinctive style and flow that grips the attention and doesn't waver, and in the finished result when all's said and done the blunt reality is Power Cubed #1 has to be judged a failure on those levels.
As a production Power Cubed looks good visually, Lopresti was always a solid artist, but as this debut progresses it becomes uncomfortably clear that it lacks a clear style of presentation and tone and plods along mightily, using twelve pages to say what should/could have been done in but two. To add to the problems in the book Lopresti throws just about every action genre and character trope into the pot, leading to the goofy but lovable saturday morning cartoon sidekick, a kick-butt female superspy, a Nazi scientist out for world domination (in 2015?!), mysterious Alien technology which everybody is after, and the hapless Girlfriend sucked into this. Oh yes, and our hero Kenny has the usual cliche of daddy issues. It's all to be seen here, dumped like some casserole recipe into the supposedly accessible first issue of the title.
If a new book is to be judged on anything by its reader then the opening pages are the important ones as they are what ssets the tone for the rest of the piece and set the stage for what the book will be about. As a capable artist Aaron Lopresti's opening page in particular is an impressive one, dominated by the sight of a ramshackle old house atop a hill this is a scene straight from the quirkiness of The Addams Family, add in the cartoonish lightning effects and it might even be Scooby Doo. But it is effective. Two hatted ne'er do wells cthe steps and dare to enter, there to be confronted by a sight that is equally surreal the the exterior of the house as the man they have come to see is a grotesque parody of a mad scientist, obviously old in years but still spry and with a face replaced partially by some form of a mask or bionics. Babbling nonsense the impression given off in these opening four pages then is of a series that will be less that literal, of a fun and skewed world filled with absurdity and mundanity in equal measure. The tone though is at odds with the artwork, as are the following pages in the issue, what is written and presented as a deliberate absursity isn't quite being supported and enhanced as so by the artstyle, and this jarring between presentation and style is what forms a major problem as the story progresses and we move to suburbia to meet our lad Kenny, a teenager who has recently lost his mother and now lives with a father he cannot quite connect with. Not that his father is a poor father, certainly not, he is attempting to build a bridge to his son by building a little something for his birthday, a cube. A very unusual cube. And when he finally does present it to Kenny we learn that it is in fact a matter altering device - capable of altering any substance or item to something else...
The concept sounds fine on paper, it is the realisation of it that doesn't work. We waste several pages between our introduction to the bizarre sight of the Nazi Doctor to getting to the point where dad presents this present to his son and these are dull dull pages of pointles plodding padding, why we should care about the absurd Nazi and his crackpot scheming when the kitchen sink drama of lonely Kenny and his loving dad trying to bridge the gap between them is not clear, but in the end there is so much wrong with the plotting and pacing of this book this is but one problem. Why would dad have the ability to build a matter transmuting device only to give it to his son as a toy? What is it he expects Kenny to do with such a powerfully tempting corrupting device? Why not use it to create gold, to wither finance the homeless, or just line his own pockets? What happens when this device becomes known about? Both the motives of characters and the conception of the series are ill though out. Instead the approach appears to be to throw every old cliche into a pot and see what manages to settle and actually work, a writer might make it work, but in the end result Aaron Lopresti is no great writer.
As Kenny ponders the gift his house comes under attack and we begin to learn that dad's source for this gift is derived from alien technology, what this means we have to find out as while Kenny managed to escape his dad is not so fortunate and only the Power Cube saves Kenny. As he rests some safe distance away a strange but excitable mini-robot materialise and this bubbly agent reveals itself to be an aspect of the Cube itself, a user interface of sorts. So along with the mad Nazi scientist we have the cute mini-robot sidekick. And then followed by the sight of lycra clad secret agent Claire Covert, appearing from nowhere to take/protect Kenny... why? How?
Power Cubed then feels and reads like a childrens series, it might be inspired by Ben 10 as much as anything, all the elements and players are cliches pulled from that childrens genre, in the hands of a writer these varied elements could be made to work in a servicable storyline, the problem with Aaron Lopresti's first work as a writer is that he does not manage to make any of this gel together remotely convincingly. It all lacks any credibility. And by books end what should be fun never translates as being such, partly due to the disconnect between the artstyle and the actual story content, but also due simply to there being so little here to actually connect... the lack of a hook and any originality makes for a rather poor and amateurish book all in all. Power Cubed isn't so much a creators vision as a creators pick n' mix of others ideas and influences in the hope something will gel and work. And in the end it doesn't.
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