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Normals #1

Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Dennis Calero
Colorist: Adriano Augusto
Publisher: Aftershock Comics

What if your entire life was fiction? What if you woke up one day to learn that everything you knew was a lie? This is an idea a number of other writers have explored in the past, and it’s the basis of the excellent new title from Aftershock Comics Normals. I review a lot of comics and especially a lot of first issues, but this one very well may be my favorite new series of the year so far.

The story opens with parents Jack and Mary, and their three kids. The family lives a peaceful, suburban lifestyle in which nothing out of the ordinary happens. Yet that all changes when their son Aidan falls out of his treehouse and wakes up with a glowing light on the back of his head. Desperate to find out why this is happening, the family returns to Jack and Mary’s hometown in Liberty, New York. Upon arrival though, they discover that not only does no one in the town remember them, but there appears to be no record of Jack and Mary ever existing.

What makes this book so intriguing is that it’s a good mystery story that manages not to be convoluted. Not to downplay a lot of the indie comics I’ve read, but too often I see an excessively complex story with amazing art. I’m all for creating narratives that are less traditional and non-formulaic, but I still need to have a sense of what’s going on. Here, writer Adam Glass does this beautifully, telling a straightforward story with great characters and an amazing twist at the end. Having been a writer/producer on TV’s Supernatural for several years, he clearly has a knack for engaging sci-fi mysteries. I also quite enjoyed his Suicide Squad run during the New 52.

Penciler Dennis Calero and colorist Adriano Augusto make for a dynamic duo, giving Normals a top-tier cinematic quality. Arranging the panels in such a way that makes the reader feel like he or she is actually viewing the story through Jack’s lens makes for an electrifying experience. In many ways the issue feels like a pilot episode for a TV show, which isn’t a bad thing. There are numerous creator-owned comics that I would love to see adapted for TV and film, this being one of them. Again, I read a lot of comics, and there are plenty of quality ones that I either lose interest in or just forget about. Normals however has me hooked, and I absolutely can’t wait for the second issue.

KEVIN SCHAEFER for Ultimate Comics