Last year we were introduced to the New-Gen Universe and all of the excitement therein, as Gabriel led his newly nano-powered team against his former friend and colleague, Deadalus. So I was pretty excited to pick this up from the guys at the New-Gen booth at NYCC 2011. With New Dawn we’re taken back several centuries where a very young and naive Gabriel will be set upon his path in life with a very dark beginning. Ancient Egypt is the setting for this story, as an already powerful Gabriel has not made himself a favorite among some people. The only thing greater than his power is his arrogance, and when you add to that his being the son of Pharaoh, there is much jealousy and hatred for the young man. His father sees this and attempts to instill a bit of humility in him, but even his words are dismissed by his only child. Pharaoh knows that he won’t be around forever, and feels that his time is running out to turn his son around. And there are those who are seeking to make the Pharaoh’s time shorter than he realizes.
New Dawn is a much different book than its predecessor, and with good reason. Rashid and Matoni set a darker tone and you get to see that the Gabriel we were introduced to in no way started out that way. They make him very unlikable, and he reminds me of the snotty kid you want to smack upside his head from time to time. We also don’t have superheroes in tights running around to save the day or cause mayhem, which also helps give this book a totally different feel. There was a bit of sequencing that confused me, as it seems as if one of Gabriel’s teachers is speaking very ill of him to the Pharaoh himself. The Pharaoh then responds, but in third person, and the teacher answers as if he’s speaking with someone else. It feels as if there was a character left out of the panel that was supposed to be there.
Along with the strong storytelling, New Dawn brings a great deal of artistic eye candy to the table on every page. Rashid and Arce do one hell of a job making sure that the visual difference is just as strong and relevant as the tone in the story. The attention to detail is also impressive, since the backgrounds are a lot more interesting than they were in the first series. From the fine ornate head pieces and royal garments, to even the withered staff of Pharaoh, it seems as if the main focus was to make this book look as great as it read. The art also captured the drama and moved the story just as well as if it had been full of action sequences and splash pages.
New-Gen: New Dawn has several familiar themes being played out and is being written very well. With four more issues to go it will be quite interesting to see the decisions that Gabriel makes, and how his past ties into what is currently happening in the New-Gen title. I only read a few all-ages titles, but New Dawn will definitely be on my list in the coming months, and I suggest it be on yours as well.