- Prodigy: The Icarus Society #2
- Image Comics
- Written by Mark Millar
- Illustrated by Matteo Buffagni
- Colors by Laura Martin
- Letters by Clem Roberts
EDISON CRANE has always been the smartest man in the room. Now he’s in a world he didn’t even know EXISTED with a secret society of super geniuses, all richer than he is and blackmailing him to recover an artifact on a mission they know is almost certain death.
Most people who’ve cracked open a comic book at some point in the last twenty years or so should recognize the name Mark Millar. Creator and writer behind a title or two (Wanted, Kick Ass, The Kingsman), as well as some great runs on existing properties (Judge Dredd, Justice League, & a thing you might’ve heard of called Civil War), Millar has made a career out of writing “out of the box”, then kicking the box into tiny little pieces for good measure.
In Prodigy, he’s introduced Edison Crane, a fellow whose successes are based on being the best and the brightest at any given thing, at any given time. In his first story arc, Crane established himself as a veritable Renaissance Man in mind & body, succeeding at everything he put his hand to. He’s a scientist, an Olympic athlete, a musical composer, and an expert in the occult. For this new story, Crane will be adding master thief to his resume’ or suffer the wrath of the self-proclaimed even smarter guy in the room, Professor Tong. Let the battle of the big brains begin!
Mark Millar’s work runs through a who’s who of famous characters and classic archetypes, with stops at every point in between. Prodigy brings readers into a different kind of challenge as Millar sets up a more cerebral conflict. Where the first issue for the Icarus arc worked to re-establish Crane’s credentials for new readers, issue two shows the opening salvo between Crane and Professor Tong in a timed challenge: Crane has to break the Professor out of prison before Tong is able to enact his own ingenious escape. The lead up was a great throwback to some of my favorite capers where The Plan is laid out in sort of a montage, narrated by whichever criminal mastermind is the focus at the time. Millar gets it going with some great voiceover work, really setting the reader up to hate this Tong guy for the arrogant, monkey-handed creep that he is. Admittedly, Edison Crane himself doesn’t have much to do in this issue but Millar is laying down the groundwork for what’s to come.
I can’t really say enough about the art of Matteo Buffagni. His work is found in the prime titles of the Marvel Universe, including Asguardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, & Spider-Man, and it is as polished and detailed as anything else I’ve seen in a comic. For the world of Prodigy, lacking the flash of colorful costumes and flying righters of wrongs, Buffagni’s style may seem subdued but that’s only until you start to really dig into his pages. The characters are all unique, with no one looking like anyone else in the book, and the central figures seem to stand a little taller than the average workaday folk. In the design, I like his use of overlapping panels, breaking out of the standard grid for a more interesting look. Finally, I have to give respect to Buffagni’s ability to elevate an issue that could have come over as slow, as it’s lacking much by way of “action”. He uses different perspectives and angles to keep things moving, even when there isn’t much happening outside of Tong’s diatribes about his awesomeness.
The finishing touches are laid out in the coloring and lettering. Laura Martin’s use of color adds depth to the illustration, very much in keeping with the “real world” attitude set up by Millar’s writing and Buffagni’s art. She keeps to a more muted palette, a thing that makes perfect sense to me as much of the issue is confined to Professor Tong’s prison cell. The lettering by Clem Roberts lays out the dialogue and voice overs, of which there are plenty here, neatly and in a way that doesn’t block out any of the art… something letterers don’t get nearly enough recognition for.
Prodigy is a different sort of thing in that we’re getting into more a battle of minds than a clash of spandex clad biceps. That kind of book can be tough to pull off, but Millar’s story so far has kept me turning the page, only disappointed that the end of the issue came so soon. Which might be the only real hitch to be found here. As a story that’s setting up for its long game, some might prefer it in a collected edition. Unfortunately, we don’t get a collected edition if no on reads the individual issues. As it is, Prodigy is a great new edition to Millarworld, and as it’s rumored to be heading to Netflix soon, it’s a great time to get on board.
Final Score: 11/13