Today I'm reviewing another installment of Dark Horse Comics' superhero revival, Catalyst Comix #1. This comic is divided into three distinct stories in the same universe (one lead story and two back ups) all written by Joe Casey with art by Dan McDaid, Paul Maybury, and Ulises Farinas with characters originally created by Barbara Kesel.
The book will rotate lead stories every three issues and starts with Frank Wells aka Titan. I think this is probably for the best. I like this format and I think it will help Dark Horse differentiate itself a bit from the big two since they don't have too many anthology books like that (They do, however, have Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman).
One thing that popped out at me right away with Catalyst Comix was that Joe Casey is writing all of it. I don't have a problem with that necessarily. Personally, I think his writing in this first issue is uneven. He goes from being very poetic and beautiful in his writing to using phrases like "Anyone need to change their underwear yet ...?" and multiple references to someone having the balls to get something done. I do get what he's going for, I really do. I just don't care for that. You might, and that is totally respectable. There is nothing inherently wrong with how Joe Casey writes in this book, it just doesn't do it for me.
The art is very consistent for having three different people working on it. This is almost entirely due to having
the same colorist and letterer for all three stories. I don't know how I feel about that though. I feel like if we're going to be telling different stories, they should have a different look to each one so they stand out and don't all blend into each other. Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman do take that approach and those books benefit greatly from it. I am not advocating for Dark Horse to just copy what the big two are doing, but I think this comic would benefit from the stories looking less uniform.
Overall, Catalyst Comix isn't a bad comic. It does have a friendly price point at 2.99, and you are getting more pages of comic than you would with a 3.99 book. However, I don't think anything really stood out with this book, none of the stories in it really spoke to me or struck me as original. The lead story goes into subject matter that Avengers and Man of Steel either covered in the movies or fan reactions covered very extensively so it felt like somewhat of a wasted opportunity, for example. If you love superheroes and are fed up with the big two, this is definitely a good pick up for you and I recommend that you do so. If you're loving what Batman and Wolverine and the rest of the gang are up to and can't wait for the next giant mega crossover event, then this isn't worth the stop over.
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