Rating: 4.5/5 – Blurring the Line Between Good and Bad.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.
“Good and bad are subjective, you’ll find. And we all have a bit of both in us.” – Maisie, clairvoyant.
I’ve often wondered what I would do if I had super powers. Would I be a hero, using my abilities as a force for good? Or would I be a villain, using my powers for personal gain? Are these the only two choices? Honestly, I think it would be a bit of a mixed bag. Sure, I’d probably do what I can to stop crime and I would never intentionally hurt anyone. But it doesn’t take a clairvoyant to know I’d also likely use my powers to make sure I’m living comfortably. Would that make me a hero or villain? It’s a gray area for sure and I think writer Eric Stephenson does an excellent job of exploring these ideas and many more in his series about a group of super powered individuals trying to make their way in a world of people not like them.
I loved the first issue of They’re Not Like Us, which had a great premise, a text-book set-up, and left me yearning for more of Eric Stephenson’s world of telepaths, technopaths, empaths, clairvoyants, etc. (which I’ll collectively refer to as “telepaths”). It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Marvel’s mutants, though absent are spandex-clad heroes and villains hell-bent on taking over the world. This series takes many of the standard genre tropes and presents them in more realistic terms. Issue #2 digs deeper into what it takes to keep these telepaths hidden from the world and begins to flesh out what life is like for them. A scenario is presented which does not paint them in the best of light, but is afterwards presented from a different point of view, blurring the line between good and bad and illustrating how the narrative can paint a picture for each. There are definitely no heroes here, but I don’t think any of the telepaths see themselves as villains. They’re just doing what they think they need to do to survive. This issue also begins to develop some of the large cast, a cast large enough that it worried me from the onset. However, Stephenson hasn’t strayed too far each issue from focusing on two or three characters, so that as of right now I don’t feel that my attention is spread too thin. I’m also really loving Simon Gane’s art on this book. I feel like the quote at the end of the book by John (Johnny Rotten) Lydon, “Anger is an energy,” perfectly describes the art as well as the story. I get a total “punk rock” vibe from the art, which has a lot of terrific detail and add a great energy to the story. This is an example of one of those combinations between art and story that is already inseparable.
At first I thought the title to this series referred to the main cast and how the world would view them. With their superhuman abilities, they’re most certainly not like us. The more I read, though, the more Stephenson has me rooting for these morally ambiguous characters against a society they believe would ridicule, marginalize, and institutionalize them because of their abilities. In two issues alone, his strong narrative has me appreciating their worldview, even though I don’t particularly identify with any of them or their plight. So now I see the title to this series from the telepaths’ point of view, that being of a society that is not like them. Does this justify whatever it is they have to do to ensure their survival? Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain, I’ll be sticking around to find out.
Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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