REVIEW: The Helix #1

Helix #1 panel
Writer/letterer: Ryan O’ Connor
Art/colours: Naomi Bolger
Price: €4 (Forbidden Planet) or €1.99 digital download
For my first review of the New Year, I will be looking back. In a stellar year for Irish comics, The Helix #1 grabbed two ICN awards, including best digital comic. No small feat given the incredible catalogue of releases for 2012. So with issue 3 coming out next month, a review of issue 1 (now going into its 2nd printing) was in order.
Set in a near-future California, The Helix is, as the blurb puts, the ‘shenanigans of a group of teenage mutants as they are roped into a self-aware, cliché-ridden, crime fighting adventure’.
Issue one does a good job of introducing the characters, using a blend of action and dialogue that doesn’t feel like it’s playing show and tell for the reader. The cast is a group of six friends blessed with off-the-rack mutant powers; healing factor, strength/speed, telepathy, flight, invisibility/intangibility, pyrokinesis, and telekinesis. The first issue puts them straight into action, and begins to set up the larger world of the series, including some of its other heroes and villains.
It’s easy to see the appeal that won The Helix digital comic of the year. Its light tone and sense of humour make it an easy read, and from page one it never attempts to be anything more complicated than a good, fun story. Even the ‘self-aware’-ness mentioned in the blurb doesn’t intrude too much into the proceedings. It doesn’t pop up in the form of post-modern deconstructionist analysing, but in the more refreshing form of humour, and amusing stabs at the tropes and trappings of the genre.
Naomi Bolger’s art is a perfect match for the writing, mirroring its tone, with expressive characters and a bright palette throughout the issue. The action scenes are energetic, with the panel layouts becoming more fractured and less formally structured, but always to the benefit of the flow of the story, never becoming confusing for the reader. It is also refreshing to see an artist not afraid of white space to border, emphasise, or offset a panel or sequence of panels.
The Helix #1 is a confident debut issue on the part of both the writer and the artist, and is above all, a fun read.