Comics Features

REVIEW: App-1 #1

The front cover of App-1 Issue #1 asks a question that potential readers must consider before, during, and after perusing the pages of Planet Jimbot’s new release: Have you seen this hero?

While the aforementioned question has more to do with the storyline of the comic than initially expected, serving as a pseudo-newspaper headline that is quite literally asking the characters within the story if they’ve seen the titular hero, it actually serves a dual purpose. In addition to the play on the internal occurrences of the story, the question forces readers to become slightly more aware of App-1 the comic rather than App-1 the superhero.

The fact of the matter is, the question so blatantly placed on the cover isn’t asking the readers if they’ve, “seen this hero.”

It’s asking them whether or not they’ve seen him before.

It’s a dozen questions rolled into five short words. Is this hero like all other heroes you’ve read about? Is this story just the same as all of the comics tucked away in your bookshelf? Have you seen this line work, or this color and shading work, in the battered issues that you’ve read over and over again?

The real question that is being asked is: Is App-1 original?

Both the story and the aesthetics of App-1 certainly seem to stray from the standard of the more popular comics of the day. The story is broken up into three parts that explore both past and present (present in the world of the comic, which actually takes place in the future), something that differs from the generally episodic nature of most modern comic series.

While it can be assumed that future issues will continue with the storylines brought up in #1, the actual formatting of the individual comic indicates that the following issues will be just as broken as the first, with App-1 taking a different approach to storytelling than the standard linear style of the typical comic.

As mentioned, there are three sections within this first issue (The Present, The Past, and the Recent Past), each of which is written in a different style and format.

The general breakdown is as follows:

THE PRESENT: The beginning of what one would assume is the central story that will be told within the series. We are introduced to three friends, Erin, Briony, and Andrew, who live in a world that has a mandatory curfew and mysterious monsters known as, “Bogeys.”

THE PAST: An old excerpt from an interview conducted with the titular hero, App-1. We learn a bit about App-1 from the hero himself as he discusses his desire for all societies to band together and make the world a better place with what he refers to as, “People Synergy.” App-1 manages to come across as a relatively modest superhero despite the fact that the interview is, ironically, meant to serve as a platform to promote his book, ‘Look to the Future.’

The close of Part 2 a.k.a. “The Past,” provides a brief snapshot of an instance in which App-1 saved the day, stopping a burning meteor from colliding with the Earth and saving X number of people in the process. We are also somewhat introduced (through voice bubble only) to the person that will presumably serve as App-1’s sidekick: Liz.

THE RECENT PAST: We learn of a slightly darker version of the optimistic App-1 from The Past while simultaneously discovering the origin of the mysterious, “Bogeys,” terrorizing the world in the present. HINT: the personal demons of our superhero might become a bit more tangible when an eccentric professor decides to bring science into the equation.


The Recent Past- Art by Iella

Though not quite as mind-boggling and difficult to follow as the work of Anthony Burgess, Jim Alexander’s writing style for App-1’s Present is very much A Clockwork Orange-esque, with a seemingly made up vernacular that’s specific to the futuristic world within the comic. Words like, “hoy,” and, “doo-lally,” are thrown into the mix early on, making it clear that, even in the future, kids often have their own language.

Language seems to play a fairly key role in App-1 because it differs greatly from one section to the next. The mentioned interview from The Past is written very similarly to what one would expect to read in a standard interview today, likely indicating that The Past in App-1 is far closer to the real world’s present. While no real conclusions can be made after one issue alone, it seems likely that the writing style and word choice are meant to be indicative of the time in which certain sections of the overarching story are taking place.

Like the writing, the images and colors within App-1 differ with each section and provide yet another visual cue that Past, Recent Past, and Present are meant to be heavily distinguished from one another. The diluted, monochromatic, color scheme of The Present contrasts greatly with the brighter colors of both The Past and the Recent Past, highlighting the hardships that have plagued the world since the disappearance of App-1 and the arrival of the Bogeys.


The Present- Art by Eva Holder

The Past and Recent Past were periods of time during which App-1 was very much involved with saving the world and protecting it’s inhabitants, something that is emphasized through the brighter colors seen in much of today’s superhero comics. The bleakness of The Present is equally emphasized through the dreary colors that are far more flat than those of The Past.

Both the written words and drawn images of App-1 seem to be carefully thought-out in the grand scheme of things. Though Jim Alexander is credited for writing each section, a different artist was responsible for the visuals of the Past, Recent Past, and Present. No section seems to be cohesive with the next; however, from what I can tell thus far, the drastic visual and written differences between Past, Recent Past, and Present were conscious decisions meant to convey a certain idea that, at this point, is still unknown.

App-1 is certainly off to an interesting start; however, having more of the story is necessary in order to determine whether not this is a comic that should be followed start to finish. The broken quality of the comic itself is certainly unique, creating an interesting narrative that makes Issue #1 more like a puzzle piece than an actual puzzle, but it means that readers are getting miniscule snippets of information. It’s difficult to become invested in a story when very little story is actually present.

App-1 #1 seems to be very much a teaser of what’s to come, setting up the later issues with vague allusions and brief flashes of intrigue that, if properly handled and revealed, will make the remainder of the story an equally fascinating read.

After reading through the first issue of App-1, my answer to the question that the comic itself asked me, “Have you seen this hero?,” is, most decidedly, no.

I’ve not seen anything like App-1 before, but I’m interested in seeing more.

Have YOU seen this hero and checked out App-1 yet? If so, what are your thoughts on this new superhero? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter.

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen