ExtraOrdinary #1 Fails to Take Flight REVIEW

Cover by Enid Balam

Author: V.E. Schwab, Artist: Enid Balam.

Warning: Potential Spoilers Imminent

Titan Comics presents V.E. Schwab’s ExtraOrdinary #1, an interesting superhero idea that fails to take flight (at least with me).

The world is quietly becoming aware of EOs, individuals who, following a near death experience, gain super powers. These powers often correlate in description to the manner of their would-be demise or the person’s thoughts immediately prior. This seems an intriguing idea that banks solely on the reader having prior knowledge of Schwab’s Villains series of novels. As someone who is unfamiliar, I felt left out of moments that I suspected were present for existing fans. Issue 1 deals exclusively with Eli Ever, broaching the origin of this EO who kills other EOs because he feels he made a mistake creating himself…? His partner, Victor, wants powers too and after a brief (maybe 2 panels) disagreement, the friends of 4 years are archenemies and a woman is dead. The breakneck speed of this title is jarring and seemingly dictates I carry over prior knowledge to fill in the gaps, almost as if the whole issue is a recap of something I’ve never seen.

Nonetheless, the writing is tight and witty at times. Schwab knows her characters and demonstrates this with every line. A particular moment between Eli and Victor at a picnic table yields realistic, genuine dialogue between two real people. There is definitely a history behind these characters that is organic and fleshed out, just not in the panels here. This leaves us with smartly written characters leading a story we get to experience with one eye closed; however, the world and lore presented are unique, teasing a lot of creative opportunity in terms of storytelling. It's important to note that there is an issue 0 that details the origin of the supposed series protagonist. The choice to number our story this way rubbed me wrong in that the numbered 1 issue serves only to reintroduce a character from the corresponding novels. I personally feel Charlotte Tills (who becomes an EO after a bus crash) carries more emotional weight. Her power allows her to see a person's death, and one glance in a mirror tells her Eli Ever will be there for hers (though when we read this we have no idea who this person is).

Balam’s art is heavily stylized but the almost shell shaded illustrations detract from the gravity I feel I’m supposed to be experiencing. I’d say it reminds me of a hyperbolic take on Geoff Johns’ run of The Flash without the emphasis on detail that made that run great. This is not to say the art is terrible. I feel it’s far more than I could produce but that it simply does not jive with the prose, a bifurcation that does not resolve into a competent reading experience. I will, however, recommend this title to those who are familiar with the books upon which this is based. This title clearly has heart behind it and therefore deserves a readership.

Art by Enid Balam

Check out ExtraOrdinary #1 from Titan Comics at your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP or on Comixology on June 23rd! If you'd like to peruse the source material that inspired this title, check out the Villains series by Schwab on Amazon.

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