After having written some of the best cosmic stories in the last decade for Marvel Comics, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning took a spot at BOOM! Studios. Again they are fashioning intricately layered tales set in the vastness of the universe. The Hypernaturals has been published for just over half a year now, and the latest release reveals questions about the villain, and a look at the history of Sublime.
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Tom Derenick and Andres Guinaldo
Colors: Stephen Downer
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
When originally announced, The Hypernaturals had created quite the stir in fans. For reasons unbeknownst to fans, Marvel Comics had decided to not continue its cosmic stories. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning had garnered somewhat of a cult following in the comic world with their amazing work on Annihilation: Conquest, Realm of Kings, and War of Kings. Now that they have been given free reign to create their own cast of characters in a universe where they have full control, fans have never been more excited. Just over half a year later, and The Hypernaturals are doing exactly what Abnett and Lanning are good at. Building complex relationships, histories, and universes. Admittedly, the excitement behind The Hypernaturals has fizzled a little bit. While the story and art have been at high levels, it is always difficult for writers to keep readers enthralled with a new cast of characters. Readers tend to gravitate toward the universe they know, and The Hypernaturals has slightly suffered because of this.
The writing duo of Abnett and Lanning, otherwise known as DnA, have placed their story in the year 100 A.Q. (after quant). They have created a future where super powers are the norm, and a handpicked few get to join the Hypernaturals, a team comprised of some of the most heroic in the universe. Because so many people come along with powers, each Hypernatural team serves a tour of duty, and a new crop of heroes take over once that is over. The most current batch of Hypernaturals have all disappeared, and it is up to the most famous team of retired Hypernaturals to save them. During the course of the series, the Hypernaturals have come into frequent conflict with the villain Sublime. Sublime is responsible for some of the most heinous crimes in history, but the Hypernaturals now have to rely on his 12th level intellect to get them out of this jam.
DnA (Abnett and Lanning) are known for creating some very layered characters and intense drama. The Hypernaturals is slowly building its characters, developing their relationships and solidifying their personalities. The fact that this is happening slowly, though, takes away from the drama that DnA are known for. Issues 1-6 have had moments that were supposed to be tense, but because of the unfamiliarity of the characters, it was hard to really care too much. Readers can tell which moments are supposed to hit home, but not many have. Issue #7 has helped create a little more drama, and is looking like a turning point for the series. The villain responsible for the disappearance of the latest Hypernaturals is revealed, and his/her intentions are coming to light. The other mystery, that of exactly who Sublime is, was also brought to light. It’s not obvious, but makes complete sense. As far as the story is concerned, issue #7 is the strongest installment. Sublime’s character is written very well, and the way he plays off the Hypernaturals is entertaining, particularly with Thinkwell. It feels as though this series could use a change of pace, or a different direction in the story. The current arc has gone on for a while, and ending it and starting a new one should happen soon.
Tom Derenick and Andres Guinaldo have been sharing art duties for most of the series. Issue #7 is the most seamless transition between the two. In past issues the difference, while slight, has been noticeable. In issue #7, however, it is barely discernible. The inks are heavier in Guinaldo’s work, but he used inker Bit for his work. If you pay close attention to the characters, you will notice that unlike some artists, not every hero looks like Schwarzenegger in his prime. The intellectual heroes are slim and the brute characters are jacked, which is quite refreshing to look at. The detailed panels are also quite nice and not overwhelming. Colorist Stephen Downer has to be one of the most patient out there. His colors blend and mesh at the right time, and are bright and pop at the right moment. His influence on the art also helps create cohesion between the two artists. With two artists, the story is packed with details, and letterer extraordinaire Ed Dukeshire doesn’t hide any of these details with his well placed dialog.
DnA are most certainly capable of writing complete space opera drama, but The Hypernaturals feels a little lacking in some areas. Their transition from Marvel cosmic to BOOM! hasn’t been seamless, but this latest installment of The Hypernaturals has finally gotten things rolling. The artistic duo of Derenick and Guinaldo is also finally gaining traction and consistency. Downer and Dukeshire are at the top of their game, which also helps some of the artistic hiccups. With the reveal of the villain and a look at Sublime’s past, The Hypernaturals is finally building some steam. As long as the stories keep coming at the level Abnett and Lanning are capable of, there is always hope.