REVIEW: Hell Yeah #1

REVIEW: HELL YEAH #1Written by JOE KEATINGE
Art by ANDRE SZYMANOWICZ
Colors by JASON LEWIS / Letters by DOUGLAS E. SHERWOOD

If Kick Ass and Watchmen had a baby, and that baby inherited none of the good qualities of either, and instead was only as an empty imitation of its parents, then that baby would be Hell Yeah.

Superheroes weren’t around twenty years ago, but now they’ve appeared, and the world has completely changed because of it. The sports and film industries are in a decline, but general prosperity is at a peak. Benjamin Day is the book’s protagonist, a student who is about to be expelled from university. He developed superpowers at a young age, but he’s got an unexplained barcode on the back of his neck. There’s a ton of plot points introduced here, but Joe Keatinge barely scratches the surface of any of them.

Despite being called Hell Yeah, there’s barely anything worth cheering about in this book. There are about two pages of action, and a ton of dialogue. It wouldn’t be a problem, but the dialogue is boring. Keatinge’s style of getting us introduced to all the characters and the beginning of the plot is completely lacking in creativity. Almost all the information we’re given is from otherwise useless conversations. There’s barely any emotion here, and even the characters themselves are hardly excited about the plot.

Keatinge also tries to fit a ton of plot points into the first issue of the story, but it makes the book feel like a mess. Since there are a bunch of very short scenes, and those scenes are just mindless dialogue, it gets frustrating fast. The book ends up being a slow read, which is unfortunate, because if it were done a different way, it could move so much faster.

Sometimes good art can save a lackluster story. That doesn’t happen here. Andre Szymanowicz’s art is an almost direct reflection of Keatinge’s writing: he doesn’t do much creative with either the art itself or the layout of the panels. His lines are strong but rough. The characters, as a result, look mediocre. They have undefined shapes despite the strong outlines, and they look inconsistent from panel to panel.

Szymanowicz also uses a very standard layout. If it were done well, that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, the size and layout of the panels don’t add anything to the story. There are often oversized panels that take up a lot of space for no reason, and there’s hardly any reasoning for the placement or size of panels. Since the writing is messy, and the art is messy, it makes for a frustrating combination.

The art’s high point, though, is in Jason Lewis’ color. In a flashback scene, everything is in grayscale, except for the red of the blood. It’s been done before, and even though Lewis doesn’t do anything different here, it still creates a contrast in color that makes an otherwise bland book interesting.

The writing, too, isn’t all bad. Keatinge’s dialogue can be witty at times, which adds a bit of personality to the constant talking heads. It’s not enough to save it, though.

I don’t like hating books. I have a predisposition to like things. This book, though, has too few redeeming qualities to justify a recommendation. Image has put out a bunch of great books lately, but Hell Yeah isn’t one of them. The writing and art are both frustratingly bland. Maybe once Keatinge and Szymanowicz get into the story, it’ll pick up a bit. But, for now, there are a lot of books out there that are much more deserving of your time and money than this.

WRITING: 2/5
ART: 1.5/5
OVERALL: 1.75/5

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