Writer Fred Van Lente opens “Brain Boy” #1 with the end of Matt Price’s day and then reveals to readers how Price — a.k.a. Brain Boy — came to be in this predicament. Joined by artist R.B. Silva, Van Lente breathes new life into a concept older than a large swath of this book’s readers. Like other decades-old concepts, there is plenty of fertile ground to till here.
A powerful telepath under the employ of the United States Secret Service, Price spends much of this issue dipping into the streams of consciousness of those around him. Van Lente is able to keep the story bouncy and mobile through this device, giving readers a lot to process as Price sifts through his findings. Being a telepath for hire in a world of ordinary folk, Price is self-righteousness and more than a little bit unlikeable, but Van Lente makes Price intriguing and builds the character up through his actions and interactions. There is a lot going on in this title as Price receives an assignment for the duration of the United Nations’ General Assembly, which is where the action begins.
A traditional length, twenty-two-page story with only one splash page gives R.B. Silva and inker Rob Lean plenty of room to stretch out. Grounded in reality, but expanding into imagination and memory, “Brain Boy” #1 proves to be a perfect match for Silva’s cartoonish style filled with believably animated characters. The mustachioed Emil Ricorta serves as an allegory for every deposed despot and tyrant, visually communicating his brilliant madness through Silva’s artwork. Ego’s colors are a wondrous range for adventure comics. Some of the stream of consciousness images could stand to be slightly paler, but that’s a minor nit to pick in this boldly colored world of thoughts and dreams that swirl around Matt Price. Silva and Lean’s art is lively and animated, grittier than their work on “Superboy,” but every bit as electric. Furthermore, Silva and Lean deliver an expressive way of depicting those whose minds are shut down by the true threat to Matt Price — a “reader” who can “mind-squeegee” his victims. Those clean slate victims are heavily shadowed, providing as much a mystery to readers as Price.
After some panel time in “Dark Horse Presents” with art from Freddie Williams II, “Brain Boy” #1 brings the enjoyable resurrection of an old Dell Comics’ property to modern comic racks. Van Lente and Silva make the story of Matt Price and his service to Albright Industries fresh enough to feel brand new. A fun read with a dynamic, surprise ending that puts Price in a bad spot and gives readers something to look forward to, “Brain Boy” #1 is another solid, unexpected offering from Dark Horse.