Comic Review: POP #1

POP #1/ Script by CURT PIRES/ Art by JASON COPLAND/ Colors by PETE TOMS/ Letters by RYAN FERRIER/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS

Purists of various musical genres scorn all corporate-created music as products crafted by committee for consumption by the mindless masses. But suppose that were the literal truth? Consider for a moment the idea that this year’s hottest singing sensations and most beautiful starlets were literal products, genetically engineered in a lab and bred to the specifications of the world’s richest and most depraved men?

Welcome to the world of Pop, where that gross hypothetical is a twisted reality. Where every famous person from Britney to Beyonce is a born-and-bred construct. Where the latest creation of this sinister cabal – a shapely blonde dubbed Elle Ray – has escaped from her masters.  And where a suicidal hipster named Coop finds himself drafted to become Elle’s unlikely savior.

As a work of science fiction, Pop is decidedly uninspired.  The idea of a powerful, secretive group using advanced technology to create celebrities is hardly an original one.  Nor is the idea of a group of rich people genetically engineering perfect people for their own twisted ends unique.  Combining the two ideas is a novel twist – think S1m0ne meets Parts: The Clonus Horror – but the script by Curt Pires does little to move beyond that base concept in this first issue.

Pop1Page5This might be tolerable had Pires given us some interesting characters to latch onto.  But Elle Ray is a complete cipher by design, having no knowledge of the world into which she has been born. She serves no function in this story other than to be a damsel in distress.  And we know nothing of our hero Coop after one issue, save that he’s a collector of records and comic books and that he was about to hang himself before the beautiful and scantily clad Elle Ray ran into his arms begging for help.

Thus far the series reads like more like the wish-fulfillment fantasy of a dateless fanboy than serious science fiction. And the satirical elements of this concept have been limited to seeing a spoiled pop-star named Dustin Beaver getting his nuts crushed by a pair of thugs in the employ of the cabal that created him. It’s an odd incongruity that Pires proves so unsubtle in his humor when he showcases the reasons for Coop’s suicidal thoughts with such finesse earlier in the comic.

The artwork by Jason Copland is similarly conflicted.  Copeland is a largely competent artist but his work loses detail in the middle and far distances.  His character designs for Coop and Elle Ray are decidedly realistic while most of his other characters – particularly the villainous leader of the celebrity breeders, Spike Vandall – are so exaggeratedly cartoonish that they would not look out of place among the cast of Space Dandy or One Piece.

Despite all this, Pop #1 is an enjoyable read.  It isn’t quite the satirical sci-fi classic that it has been promoted as, but it isn’t a bad book.  There’s enough good in this first issue to suggest that this series will improve with time and it may prove to be a more solid read in its final collected edition.

Rating 3


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