Continuing this week of comic book reviews is Metaphase, a graphic novel with a story by Chip Reece, art by Kelly Williams, and letters by Peter Simeti. Unlike the past two graphic novels I've reviewed, Metaphase takes on the superhero genre. However, to remain distinct from the flashy, popular comics of Marvel and DC, this Kickstarter-funded Alterna Comics release features a main character with a disability thrust into a world of superpowered beings.
I absolutely adored this novel. From the very first page I was hooked (of course, it helps that the first page features a heroic depiction of the Sentinel). The character Ollie, a child with Down Syndrome, was instantly likable, and the book evoked a surprising amount of emotion in his attempts to become as strong as his father. Although I have never had any experience with disabilities, the way the comic portrays the tragic situation of Ollie and the pursuit of his dreams was incredibly heartwarming, an unexpected turn from what is labeled a "superhero" comic. Moreover, the novel does spend some of these emotional moments on the father, reflecting the sorrows of a superpowered parent with a child with Down Syndrome. Ultimately, the comic's strength lies in the portrayal of Ollie's relationship with his father.
The plot centers around a very standard superhero story, with most of the distinguishing attributes left to the characters themselves. However, the comic does a fantastic job in establishing this new world for the characters to exist in. Yes, we've all seen supervillains terrorizing the city before, and we've all seen the evil corporate businessman trope, but the characters that occupy these roles are at least unique and memorable, driving what is essentially an origin story for a different kind of superhero.
I do have some slight issues with the artwork. Though the colors and the visual presentation of the novel is fantastic, some of the stylistic choices in the facial expressions are a little strange to me. However, once you are immersed in the novel's story, you hardly notice it, and it's a very minor fault to an incredibly story. Besides these instances, the novel's art is done well, with the action scenes throughout being the standout moments of fantastic art.
Honestly, I don't know what else to say about this novel that wouldn't be repetitive. It's a very hopeful novel, one that tugs at the heartstrings while balancing the pure enjoyment of a superhero comic. I have hardly any complaints, other than I wish there were more adventures to be told beyond the 80-page volume. If you're a fan of comics, great stories, superheroes, or anything that is great art, I would definitely recommend spending some time with Metaphase.
Metaphase is available on Comixology, and my copy was provided by Peter Simeti for review purposes.