[23 July 2008]
When we last left Paul Krutcher, star of Bizarre New World, he had just stumbled upon a startling revelation. The power of flight, which he thought was a power only he had, had been bestowed on all of the Earth’s population. He went from ordinary to special back to ordinary, all in the span of a couple of weeks.
Bizarre New World: Population Explosion picks right up where the last series left off. Humanity is reveling in their new found powers—in the most reckless ways possible. Paul then gets a voicemail from his son, Sean, in Arizona. All he hears is crying, the words, “Help Me,” and then dead air.
Panicked, Paul must make his way from California to Arizona in the quickest way possible, trying not to get killed by the legions of morons now littering the sky. The only chance he has is to employ everything he has learned with the head start he received to navigate the now crowded skies.
This seems like the perfect concept for a sequel. The stakes are raised, the risks are greater, and the character must grow to overcome them. And, for the most part, Bizarre New World: Population Explosion carries through on this concept’s potential.
When I reviewed the first Bizarre New World series, I was impressed by its charm and humor. I spoke of the hero we could root for and the concept being grounded in reality. That all still applies. You want Paul to succeed in his quest, you worry about the fate of his son, and you admire his courage in the task.
Paul’s flying ability is, once again, portrayed in a realistic fashion. Skipper Martin has done his research, and is sure to provide readers with an explanation of how Paul could travel from Los Angeles to Arizona so quickly. And the final scene shows some real heart, and should bring a smile to the face of even the harshest critic.
However, in the above review I also mentioned a flaw I saw with the original story, which was with the pacing. There was a tendency with Martin and/or Provencher to stretch things out. In other words, they took five panels to express what could be said in one.
In the original series, it was a minor distraction. In the sequel, the same problem exists, and it is much more of an issue. Perhaps it is because we are hoping that Paul is reunited with his son that the full page the team devotes to Paul selecting things to take on his trip is nigh unbearable. Perhaps it was meant to build tension, but it took me right out of the story.
The pacing all over needed a lot of tightening. This is at most 32 pages of story padded out to 52. With a tighter edit, the story would be much better.
Another awkward part is the character of Marie. She is a waitress at a diner located halfway along Paul’s journey. Without a proper introduction, she provides Paul with water, a free meal, and cot in the back room of the diner for him to rest and a wordy monologue to ease his fears. I assume this is a diner Paul stops at frequently, therefore that is how he knows her, but it would be nice if this was explained better.
In Hollywood, conventional wisdom states that the sequel is never as good as the original. Well, that is certainly true here. It is not a completely awful comic—it does have a lot of redeeming qualities—but it also has more flaws that the original.