Devin McKenzie is an insomniac librarian with a knack for solving puzzles. The Answer! is a masked crime fighter with a giant exclamation point on his face. Aside from a penchant for late nights, they share nothing in common . . . until both become embroiled in a deadly mystery surrounding a sinister motivational speaker!
On paper, The Answer! has an intriguing premise. In print, The Answer! has a keen look. But in reality, The Answer! has far more questions than answers and gives precious little information. After reading the book I still have no idea what it is really about. More than being a puzzle, that is a problem!
Much of the premise of the book revolves around one character’s love of puzzels, so Hopeless and Norton seem to want to emulate that in the book. However, puzzles and mysteries need clues. its of information need to be dropped which can then be unraveled by the reader. But Hopeless and Norton don’t do that in the Answer!. They simply give the reader the opportunity to watch as the main character delights after she solves a puzzle. The reader does not get to see her struggle (in fact, she makes it all seem so easy that there is no way to empathize with her) and never really gets a sense of what the big deal is about solving these problems.
When the titular hero appears out of nowhere with a John Connor-ish, “Come with me if you want to live” line, there is no reason to believe there is any danger until after he has explained all the danger and given away the surprise. There is so much explaining going on that the visuals seem superfluous.
As for the visuals, well, Norton is not delivering his “A” game. The design of The Answer! is quite striking, falling somewhere between Joe Casey and Charlie Adlard’s Codeflesh and G.I Joe’s Snake Eyes. However the execution of the body in motion is awkward. At times The Answer! looks pretty goofy instead of being heroic, and other times it is almost as if his arms and legs are too long for his torso. I’m not sure if he is supposed to be badass, but the art sure does not sell that fact as much as the script wants him to be.
The Answer! seemed like it should have worked. There was supposed to be mystery, intrigue and action. However the mysteries were not explained well enough to grasp why they are mysteries, the intrigue was not very intriguing, and the action was either awkward or spoiled by too much writing. This was a disappointing comic, especially since I have enjoyed Norton’s (and Hopeless’ ) other work tremendously.
The Answer! #1 is available now from Dark Horse Comics. Click here for a five page preview.