Decompressed stories in comics firmly require the reader to accept that they don’t get a complete story in one issue any longer. At best, they’re getting an opening chapter, not very different from getting the first ten minutes of an hour-long television show. This method may allow for “fuller” stories which work fine when they’re fully collected into a trade, but it also requires a hell of a sales pitch to the reader to get them to keep coming back over several months and getting a complete story in piecemeal format in that time.
This is where Skybourne falls short. This is a near-complete package of Frank Cho writing, drawing, and inking his own stuff, and it’s remarkably not even pinup cheesecake. If you like Cho, this may very well be for you. The problem is that this opening issue never quite gets around to telling us what it’s about. There’s a man (Thomas) who falls from heaven to Earth completely unharmed, followed by an apparently divorced story about a superhumanly strong woman (Grace) who’s trying to get possession of Excalibur.
How these stories are connected is unclear, at least from the issue itself. Oh, you can learn plenty about Skybourne if you’ve been reading the press. From interviews and solicitations, the man and woman are apparently the immortal children of Lazarus, blessed with immortality and superhuman powers. The comic itself is described as a combination spy-and-fantasy thriller, and it may very well prove to be a lot of fun. But this first issue never gets around to presenting us with its thesis statement, so a reader trying this fresh off the street really isn’t given a lot of cues as to what’s going on.
Cho’s art is certainly pretty enough, and as said, it’s nice to see him doing something other than cheesecake. Grace is an attractive woman who gets through plenty of action sequences without getting anywhere close to naked. What Cho loses in skin, he makes up for in violence. Remember, this isn’t from Boom!’s younger “Kaboom” imprint–Grace can and does disembowel and punch through her enemies as casually as possible. It’s impressive, although a little dry as Grace is so powerful that her lack of interest in the fight makes it boring for us readers, too.
Skybourne may show promise in the future. For now, while it’s not bad–and Cho’s art is great–the story on this chapter alone doesn’t quite suck us in just yet. Maybe keep a pulse on this one, but at the moment, it’s not the next must-have sleeper hit.
Rating: Two and a half highlanders out of five.