Catalyst Comix #1 (Dark Horse)


Rating: 4.5/5 – An Anthology done right

The anthology is the trickiest comic format for me as a reader.  Typically I get a mixture of stories I like a lot, some I think are OK, and maybe even some I don’t like at all.  Catalyst is an anthology on the surface in that it’s 3 stories with 3 different artists, but they’re all written by Joe Casey and are all inter-related in a very cool way.

This series harkens back to Dark Horse’s “Comics Greatest World” from the early 1990s.  In particular, we are focusing here on the Golden City corner of that world (the other parts were Steel Harbor, Arcadia – where the recent Dark Horse revivals Ghost & X hail from, and the Vortex).  We get 3 stories in this issue that feature Titan, Grace, and the Agents of Change.

Casey starts us off with a story featuring Frank Wells, Titan, with art by Dan McDaid.  The story is “12.21.12 – This is What Went Down”, Titan faces off against a HUGE threat and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.  Big super-hero action at it’s finest with dark touches and sharp Joe Casey narration throughout.

We next visit Amazing Grace with art by Paul Maybury where we get “12.21.12 – This is What REALLY Went Down”, we see another side of the story as Amazing Grace is off in space and we see what may have really been behind the threat Titan was facing in the first story.  Maybury’s art is a bit rough to my eyes but has some really effective panel-to-panel storytelling and visuals.

Finally, we see The Agents of Change with art by Ulises Farinas and “12.21.12 – This is What Went Down and Nobody Cared (yet)”, my favorite of the 3, as we focus on some street level characters with the battle Titan was engaged in playing on the radios and TVs in the background.  Here we meet Elvis Warmaker and Wolfhunter, with references to other inhabitants of Golden City buried in the background of many scenes.  Farinas has some really nice art, reminiscent of Paul Pope and Rafael Grampa.  Very clean and he loads the backgrounds in key panels with detail.  Here Wolfhunter is “putting the team back together” something that’s going to pay off in upcoming issues when we start to care, as referenced by the title.  A lot more dialogue in this story and Casey’s dialogue shines.

Casey blends the 3 stories together very effectively showing us 3 very different aspects of the same day in the life of Golden City.  We get world building, character introductions, and some very big promises on what’s going to be coming in future issues.  I don’t think this will be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.  The art is not “super-hero standard” and may be off-putting to some, but it’s a mixture of styles that I found very appealing.  I’m on board for the entire run of this series, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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