As far as anti-Christ sagas go, the debut of ‘Babyteeth’ plays it safe
By Brandy Dykhuizen, Courtney Ryan, and Matthew C. Brown. Our Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while taking time for a new review or two before it’s all over. Did we miss your favorite books this week? Well. This is where you need to be.
Written by Kyle Higgins.
Art by Jorge Fornés.
Colors by Chris O’Halloran.
Letters by Taylor Esposito.
MCB: The Turing Test, designed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a way of testing how well a computer or machine can imitate a human. The test, and variations of it, are useful in developing artificial intelligence. Magnus has moved far beyond Turing’s controversial test into a world where robots aren’t just artificially intelligent, they’re evolving beyond human control.
In 2020, the problem is no longer whether robots can imitate humans, it’s, “how do we keep them from developing the same kinds of mental issues that humans have?” In the world of Magnus, robots have developed what psychologists call “pragmatic dissonance” or “computer depression” because they struggle with the idea of their own artificiality. Magnus is a robot psychologist that helps robots find and develop a place in their mind called “the cloud world”, something robots developed for themselves so they could build lives outside of their subservience. When the head of the largest robotics company in the world and his wife are murdered by the robot butler they invented, it is up to Magnus to enter the cloud world in pursuit of their killer.
Dynamite’s Magnus is the latest iteration of a vision that began in the capable hands of Russ Manning in 1963. Originally named Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000 AD, the name change is just one part of this invigorating revamp. Magnus not only portrays its titular character as a woman, it drops the baggage that comes with “Robot Fighter”. That provides Kyle Higgins and Jorge Fornés the freedom to create a more nuanced character and world. And it is in their innovations that this book has just become an essential read.
9 out of 10
Catalyst Prime: Noble #2
Written by Brandon Thomas.
Art by Roger Robinson.
Colors by Juan Fernandez.
Letters by Saida Temofonte.
CR: The flagship title in Lion Forge’s superhero line continues to breeze ahead at promising speed. Catalyst Prime: Noble #2 links back up with David Powell, an astronaut-turned-fugitive who’s developed a thing for telekinesis after his supposed death saving the Earth from an asteroid.
Not a whole lot transpires in this second issue, though that’s only in comparison to the tremendous amount of ground covered between issue #1 and the one-off series opener, The Event. Instead of lurching forward with Powell’s misadventures, writer Brandon Thomas offers us a chance to survey the damages and learn a little more about how the fugitive came to experience his powers, as well as who else might be aware of his existence and capabilities. As a result, more characters enter the murky frame and Powell’s story becomes even more mysterious.
For senior editor Joseph Illidge, the greatest challenge in running the Catalyst Prime imprint will be keeping readers focused on the forest despite the assorted foliage. In Noble #2, Thomas is essentially weaving together three different story arcs—Powell’s journey, his presumed widow’s quest for her husband, and his doctor’s emerging Prometheus complex—that will ultimately dovetail with the “event” and the other superheroes and villains spawned from it. Luckily, Roger Robinson’s tidy artwork and Juan Fernandez’s crisp colors achieve provide the issue with great clarity and detail.
Though it falters under its own weight at times, Noble #2 is still a riveting episode from Catalyst Prime. Overall, this second issue maintains the momentum captured in Noble #1 and poses enough new questions to keep the story moving forward.
7 out of 10
Written by Donny Cates.
Art by Gary Brown.
Colors by Mark Englert.
Letters by Taylor Esposito.
BD: Babyteeth opens amidst ruin. The pages chronicle what appears to be the ends of the earth, or — in this case — Palestine. A mother leans up against a Doric column, agonizing in the fetal position over how to address her estranged child on video. We find out it’s been a long hard road for little Sadie, knocked up with the anti-Christ at the tender age of sixteen. It’s hard enough to slog through high school without your contractions causing tremors that would clock in a solid “five” on the Richter Scale.
Donny Cates explores the mind of a young mother who, despite birthing a black-eyed “void lord,” is still governed by biology to do all she can to bring her spawn safely into the world. As far as anti-Christ stories go, Babyteeth has few surprises to offer right off the bat, but Gary Brown’s art and a pre-existing faith in Cates is enough to guarantee I’ll be checking in on issue #2.
The artwork does have some truly stellar moments. Brown depicts the birth as a sort of straddling of the void – both from the mother’s and child’s perspective – and bypasses its physical nature almost entirely. Panels of comfortable, burgundy-tinged darkness bisect the chaos of the hospital. Sadie’s complicated delivery is shown in sparse red and white panels, as she is pulled between the slow release of death and the shrieking wombfruit that lurches her back to reality.
We leave Sadie where we found her, pausing under a full moon a world away. Babyteeth is a front row seat to the approaching end of days via the lady who unleashed its catalyst. The story may be a touch familiar, but the delivery is open-ended enough to leave room for intrigue.
6.5 out of 10
From earlier this week —
What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.