Monday, February 16, 2009

Eureka #1

I've always taken it for granted that a great majority of the nation's most brilliant minds are under the employ of the US Government. Between its connections, its resources and the ability to literally print their own money, the feds enjoy a large number of benefits that private corporations simply can't match. So, barring any moral dilemmas, if you're a brilliant mind in the United States, chances are good you're working for the man. But where does that put you, physically? Where do you park your seat from nine to five on a typical working day? Where do you call home? In Eureka, an adaptation of the popular Sci-Fi channel TV series, the answer to both questions is a small town in the Pacific Northwest with an average IQ of somewhere around 180.

Andrew Cosby and Brendan Hay pair up on the book's writing duties; Cosby, co-creator of the original series (and one of the founders of publisher Boom! Studios) handles the issue's plot while Hay pens its script. Cosby is wise to recognize that, while the concept of a town full of brainiacs may seem interesting on paper, in execution it's probably going to be tough to establish a connection with a less-intellectual audience. His solution is Sheriff Carter, an everyman lead character who provides a sense of perspective and stability amongst a culture of mad scientists. The eccentric geniuses of the city keep their quirks, the story keeps its unique angle and the readers aren't hung out to dry without an emotional anchor. Problem solved.

Newcomer Diego Barreto provides Eureka's artwork, which is kept clean, basic and organized in the same vein as Stray Bullets veteran David Lapham. Barreto may not have the discipline, seediness and maturity evident in Lapham's work, but the two share a knack for visual characterization and the ability to keep the page clean amidst a wealth of activity. His storytelling is sometimes tough to follow, however, which can be very disorienting at times. Early in this issue, for example, Sheriff Carter appears to sprint away from a hostage situation, only to be seen chatting face-to-face with the bad guy on the next page. I'd thought a few panels had gone missing, but it turns out cloudy artwork was to blame, and it wasn't the only time I had to step back to figure out what had just happened.

Fans of the TV series will find plenty to enjoy here, as the comic book expands on the backgrounds and personalities of characters that were left unexplored in the primary series. Readers unfamiliar with the material needn't fret either, as this is fairly accessible material after a brief feeling-out process. It's good fun, although it came off a bit more generic than I'd expected – Eureka enjoys a deep cast almost unanimously populated by geniuses, but this month we're rolling along with the sheriff to crack a hostage situation? Seems like a waste of a perfectly good premise. Borrow this from a friend: it's solid on most fronts but I can't imagine I'll want to read it over and over again.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 7

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