Rex Edison #1

Written by Chris Roberson
Illustrated by Dennis Culver
Monkeybrain Comics

Edison Rex has been fighting his arch enemy Valiant, time after time.  This is to be their final confrontation, as the smartest, yet most evil, man on earth tries one last time to defeat the caped superhero that’s thwarted him at every turn.  Yet what do you do when you’ve accomplished your goal in life and are tasked with taking over for him?  Edison Rex is about to find out in the new series from Monkeybrain’s co-publisher.

After reading Mark Waid’s Irredeemable the past few years, I didn’t think that anyone could come up with a new and clever twist on the Superman/Lex Luthor relationship that Waid did in that series.  Roberson, however, no stranger to writing Superman comics himself, hits on an idea that really works.  In this first issue, he echoes the enmity between Lex and Superman, engaging in clever dialog along the way that helps the reader look past the similarities.  After lulling both the reader and Valiant into a false sense of security, Roberson goes for the kill with a Chekov’s gun that seems to surprise even Edison.  In the end, despite his evil nature, Edison Rex sees the wisdom in Valiant’s final words, setting up the further action of the series.

Most of this first issue is used to create a backstory that drives the ongoing narrative, not unlike the work of Knave and Kirkbride in Amelia Cole.  In this case, however, the pacing is more relaxed and feels less like Roberson is trying to pack too much information in.  He does a lot of work with one-off panels of past adventures, and I’m sure we’ll get more of the Rex-Valiant story as we go, but there’s just enough here to cement the plans going forward.

To some degree, Roberson is also using a few of the tricks we’ve seen others do when creating a story with an old-school feel, such as the opening and closing titles.  This story reminds me of Invincible at its early stages, before I think the narrative got off the point, and the dialogue has a very Kirkmanesque feel, which should appeal to fans of the Walking Dead (and many other projects) scripter.

The art choices for Rex Edison also remind me a bit of Invincible.  Dennis Culver draws his characters very big, with large chests and stocky shoulders.  He has Rex staged as hamming it up, posing like Darkseid at some points and gesticulating wildly like a Bronze-age villain at others.  Valiant is wide-eyed and ready to be heroic in every shot.  The backgrounds are not overly detailed, but they get the job done.  I do hope there’s a bit more variety in the future in terms of panel choices and character placements, as the action here is a bit stiff overall.  This issue featured a lot of talking, however, so that could explain it.  If the comic is going to echo classic superhero comics, it should also echo how they were staged.

Rex Edison is an examination of what happens when Luthor must become the hero.  It’s shaping up to be a great adventure that won’t be easy for the title character, but I am looking forward to seeing the fun and dangerous adventures Roberson and Culver put him through.  This was a great first issue, and I think it’s only going to get better from here.