- ExtraOrdinary #1
- Titan Comics
- Written by V. E. Schwab
- Art by Enid Balam
- Additional credits
- Leonardo Olea
- Jordi Escuin Llorach
What would you do to get superpowers? How far would you be willing to go?
What if you had to die first? Or at least be mostly dead & then brought back?
Rumors of the EOs abound, stories of people who have gone through a near death experience, been to the “other side” and then brought back different. The mainstream scientific community had blown the phenomena off as barely tabloid worthy poppycock, but medical student Eli had an idea. He considered the possibilities of proving (or disproving) the existence of EOs as his doctoral thesis. As a person of profound spiritual faith, Eli believed that one way or the other his work could be a huge benefit to all mankind. He just had to die first.
And he succeeded. With the help of his friend & fellow student Victor, Eli died and came back with all of his beliefs & convictions intact. Also, after his self-inflicted brush with death, Eli can no longer be killed. Now he’s “Inmate Zero” in a holding facility built specifically for ExtraOrdinaries, people who have been deemed too dangerous to remain free.
Best selling author V.E. Schwab is hard at work after a run at her Shades of Magic series, also published by Titan Comics, this time diving into the ultimate comicbook realm of superheroes. Kinda sorta. There are no capes, no costumes, but there is a heavy lean into the subversion of good & evil as an “either/or” concept and that makes it interesting when you’re trying to pin down who the “bad guy” is supposed to be. I’m also really keen on seeing where some of the subtler concepts of ExtraOrdinary go from here, mainly the idea that the powers EOs gain are actually tied to the circumstances of their “death”. In Eli’s case, he was an assisted suicide who really didn’t want to die, but was in fact determined to come back. Now he can’t be killed, and whether or not that does tie in directly to the mythology of Schwab’s world is what makes this story really cool!
Not to say that ExtraOrdinary isn’t a good-looking book, thanks to the work by the artistic team of Enid Balam, Leonardo Olea, & Jordi Escuin Llorach. The illustrations are amazing, with the kind of stylized flair that’s seen in a lot of European comics. While there isn’t as much by way of “action” happening on the page, one pretty visceral stabbing notwithstanding, there’s still plenty going on. All in all, it’s a pretty piece of world building as we’re introduced to several environments, from the academic to the institutionalized. Character designs are given an impressive level of detail, particularly Eli whose demeanor changes over the course of his story, from flashback origin to present. Everything on the page is brightly rendered to highlight every point on which the eyes could come to rest. The design, the backgrounds, the colors… I don’t know art but I know what I like!
ExtraOrdinary is about as high concept as I can think of in a “superhero” book. The only title I come up with that’s even close might be Death Sentence, also published by Titan Comics, in which gaining super powers is actually a terminal illness. Any possible comparisons aside, this one is a decidedly unique spin on the old story, “with great power comes great responsibility.” V.E. Schwab has broken new ground on old genres before, she’s done it again here, and it’ll be interesting to see what she decides to tackle next.
Final Score: 11/13