Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chronic Review: Pantheon # 1

Pantheon # 1
IDW Comics

Script: Mark Andreyko

Pencils: Stephen Molnar

22 pages for $3.99

I don't know why every washed up actor or rock star believes they need a comic book. But apparently, they do. Me, I'm willing to give anybody a shot. Show me you got the chops, I'll acknowledge it. And every once in awhile, some dude from My Chemical Romance will pop out of the woodwork and produce the Umbrella Academy. So it isn't out of the question for some pseudo star to produce viable work. I think the difference is that Umbrella Academy isn't some schlep with a marketing gimmick trying to boost album sales or trying to save us lowly comics folks from ourselves with his glorious presence. (Tyrese Gibson, I'm looking at you, kid) When a Gerard Way or a Jonathan Ross shows up with a child-like glee, good things can happen.

But it's rare. For every Umbrella Academy, I can think of a host of ridiculous failures: Dominatrix, Mayhem, Incarnate, Voodoo Child, Shadowhunter, Berserker...we could do this all day.

And truth in advertising - Michael Chiklis is claiming nothing more than a co-creator credit. So whether it's good or bad, we can't hang much of it on Vic Mackey. So with that out of the way, what's Pantheon all about, and how does it shake out compared to the other "star" creations?

Pantheon is a bit of a mess, but it appears to focus mainly on Hamilton Finch, who likes old stuff. Apparently, he's just a regular dude who got himself aboard a pirate vessel so he could squirrel away a few items for himself, so they weren't scratched or damaged or something. Think of him as Indiana Jones, only without being interesting or competent.

Somehow this whole pirate raid on "Old Miami" has something to do with a terrorist attack on Greece, which has mysteriously come up with a previously unknown oil patch. Because you know, Exxon didn't really put many resources into that sort of thing, so these babies are hiding everywhere.

Somewhere at the bottom of the Grecian blast a rescue worker opens Pandora's box, which launches sparks across the globe, and a piece of that hits Old Miami just as good old Ham is being eaten by a shark, which was the closest thing to entertainment this comic provided! Get that annoying little shit, Jaws!!!

As it turns out, the site the pirates were about to raid before it was bombarded with Pandora Particles features....Zeus! Dun! Dun! DUNNNN! Zeus looks remarkably like Michael Chiklis. Only with a beard. Very weird. The word "hubris" comes to mind...but I'm not sure it's big enough.

At any rate, Zeus saves Mr. Finch from entering the belly of the beast (doh!) and brings him into his house. Presumably because they share a fancy for antiques.

Listen, this is childish paycheck comics at its worst. Marc Andreyko can write, too, folks. Go check out Manhunter and you'll see what I mean. Pantheon is a "mystery" comic, and its the bastion of a lot of really, really, really weak writing. Go check out Spawn: Endgame and you'll see what I mean.

When an author can't make something interesting, they'll either make it gratuitous (via sex or violence) or they will shroud the story in "secrets". As though confusion or ignorance is any kind of substitute for quality. Ooooh, what's that spark that came out of the box? Who is responsible for that terrorist attack that happened to nobody we care about in a country we don't care about? Why is Zeus sitting in Miami?

We don't care. If Zeus said or did anything entertaining, we might care. If the "high gas price" world Andreyko created was in any way fresh or novel, we might care. If Hamilton ever broke out of a cliche or said something witty, maybe we might give a shit. Jane Goodall jokes? Five more minutes, mom? No. Thanks for playing, but no. Your "mystery" lays dead, because the audience requires some investment to wonder about the principals. We don't care.

You want to know how to do a mystery book? Go find Y the Last Man. Every male animal in the world drops stone dead except two? Yeah, now I'm interested. Yorick and Agent 355 were fully developed characters who behaved in a manner that caught the attention, surprised, made one laugh, and developed. THAT'S how you write a mystery book.

This is nonsense. The "Gods on Earth" schtick is fine, but it's been done, so you better bring some zest with you if you're going to do it. This is cliche soup with a "B" actor's name attached to it. For $4 a pop. I'll pass, thank you.

- Ryan

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