Art by: Pete Woods and Nate Piekos
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 29, 2016
Publisher: Dark Horse
We are changing things around here at the old Weird Science offices and as of right now, I'm not sure what day will be our "Just for the Hell of it" review day. That's the day we expand beyond our usual DC Comics realm into the world of comics at large to bring you reviews such as this one...Cryptocracy by Van Jensen. So far, I have loved almost everything we've gotten out of DC's Rebirth, but I do miss Van and was so glad to get the opportunity to review his new Dark Horse book, Cryptocracy. If you like conspiracy theories, the Illuminati, Men in Black and the X-Files, you should pay attention because Van obviously shares your interests and is writing a comic filled to the brim with just that...and more. Hopefully, I have your attention because here comes the review...
After a credits page that briefly spells out exactly who and what controls the world, we jump head first into the pool and Van Jensen starts off by showing us that the pool might be deeper than we ever imagined. Through a cool narration, we learn that something has gone wrong. Something has gone TERRIBLY wrong.
The narrator tells us it's a "Roswell-Grade Cock-up" and then we see just what he means. It's a nice setup to show the reader a little about the hierarchy of the secret society that runs the world, but more to show just how far they will go to keep that control...and possibly to keep the human race from destroying itself. That last part is one of those grey area, depending on how you look at it. I'm looking at it from the position of someone being treated as cattle.
The opening scene I'm talking about ends in a major disaster that cost hundreds their lives and easily millions of dollars in cleanup and cover-up and while we are being led to believe that Shin (the third level operative responsible) is heading for a horrific death, that is not the case. Boy, was I pissed!
It's not that I was hoping for a bit of the ultra violence here, it was the "shrug your shoulders" attitude of these people running the show. It continues throughout this issue and is definitely by design and when we begin seeing the cracks in the armor, my smile was made all the bigger because of it.
I will tell you right now, one of the only things I found fault with in this issue was the overabundance of information we get. There is a ton of things to take in and process and at times it can make you dizzy. On a positive note, it's all really good and lays a very rich world right at your feet from the start.
We continue as Shin is given a tour by Grahame and while I'm not sure how much we will see of Shin going forward, it looks as if Grahame is going to be our lead character. While I hate everything he stands for (so far), there is still something about him that makes me like him. Maybe it's his treatment of Shin, but I wouldn't mind hanging with him, shooting the shit and watching a basketball game.
The issue continues by introducing us to Nick and Temple, the leader and heir to the Mars Family. We find out there are nine other families that secretly rule the world and that they don't like each other much. We also learn that Temple is a cold-hearted bitch who has no love for Grahame.
From there, we are introduced to Jason and the Greys. As of right now, Jason is my favorite character in this book! A trash talking Bugbear? Sign me up! He is also a sounding board for Grahame and makes you like the lead even more. The Greys are pretty cool too. It seems they have gone right from Roswell to here for their new job of "cleaning up messes". We see them in action and they easily earn all the Doritos and Mountain Dew they can consume.
The characters keep coming as we meet Bella, the host of "Broadcast from Beyond". She's a prettier version of Art Bell and while her show seems to attract it's share of crazies, she has one caller who just might now the truth of what's going on.
After a quick scene that shows just how badass Grahame and Jason are, the issue ends by showing the reader that while the world is being ruled by nine divided Houses, an outside threat has shown up that just might topple them all!
I'll mention it one more time...Van Jensen gives you a huge bang for your buck here. He introduces a crazy world-order concept, a handful of characters, a couple of potential villains and a humongous mystery all rolled up in a #1 issue. While I still don't know if I've correctly processed it all, I really like it. Because of the concept, nobody is a "good guy" (except maybe Bella), but I am already attached to Grahame and Jason and hope they give Temple what she's got coming to her! I put a lot of stock in whether I remember the names of the characters after reading an issue and while we get a ton of them here, I know them all. That's some good character work by Jensen and he tops it off with some kick ass world building as well. by the way, loved the Green Lantern reference!
Pete Woods' art is awesome! I hate to throw that word out there like a modern day Bill S. Preston, Esquire, but I really want you to know how much I liked it. Van Jensen's world is full of crazy aliens, walking and talking animals and advanced tech and Woods makes it all look fantastic, but also makes it all fit. That's a big thing for me and it's obvious that Woods and Jensen are on the same page here and it's a damn pretty looking page, if you ask me.
Bits and Pieces:
Van Jensen kicks off his new series by giving the readers a ton of great characters, dense world building and an intriguing mystery. Pete Woods does a great job of bringing everything to life and by the end, I was totally immersed in what him and Jensen were selling. It's a lot to digest, but it's a meal well worth sitting down to enjoy. If you believe in things like the Illuminati and know that the "Truth is Out There", I think you will really enjoy this book. Recommended.