Despite my excitement over more Michael Avon Oeming art, the first issue of “Sinergy” is neither creative nor controlled enough to wow me. Without a fluid plot, its many solid ideas stall and fail to fully engage. Once things come together more, it could evolve into an edgy, energetic take on supernatural crime-fighting, but it’s just not there yet. I’m on board for issue #2, but I’ll need to see some improvement to stay on board.
The opening and the ending of “Sinergy” are by far my favorite parts of the issue. The story begins as the protagonist, Jess, is about to “become a woman” with her boyfriend Leaf. The scene is wonderfully, realistically awkward — a “meh” first time with funny narration like “Holy. Crap. It’s in.” and “Oh God, hurry up and finish already!” Like many of the best stories about teens and the supernatural, it doesn’t shy away from the metaphor between encountering demons and growing up.
As the story keeps moving, though, the plot stops making sense. The script follows a dramatic structure rather than an emotional logic. For instance, Jess screams while having sex with Leaf, and so her father storms in, but she doesn’t seem to clarify that it was not sexual assault until the next morning. Did her father not try to call the police, or at minimum, discuss it with Jess? Even if the two are meant to have a tense relationship, that’s the sort of problem that gets handled with immediacy. Similarly, her father begins to have a conversation with her about her powers and then lets her walk off on the lame excuse of “going back to bed.” Structurally, I get what they’re doing. This delays the exposition of what being a “seer” means and keeps the reader guessing. Emotionally, it doesn’t read to me that her father would let her walk off when these powers are important enough to “save the Earth.” It doesn’t even really read to me that she would walk off in the first place.
However, though the issue didn’t always feel organic emotionally, the art is top-notch — from both artists. Oeming’s heavy shading and confident inks are at once graphic and discreet. The big emotional moments are emphasized with panels that focus on the eyes, a great use of viewpoint in a book about supernatural sight. The backgrounds often lack detail; though the opening page establishes the setting, in her day-to-day Jess walks through boxy, standard houses and nondescript streets. It makes the setting feel at once like everywhere and nowhere.
Oeming’s work is complemented by sickly colors from Soma that give the book a netherworld feel. When she’s having sex, Jess’s skin is blue-purple. In the kitchen the next morning, her whole family is light green. Combined with the blank walls and bland architecture, it looks like Stepford by the river Styx.
Much as I like Oeming, my favorite panels were actually Taki Soma’s at the end. She uses a super-cool visual to convey Leaf and Ocean, with small square panels cutting them up and revealing their inner monsters. She also switches her approach from panel to panel. In some, they are fully monstrous; in others, fully human; in still others, a mix of the two. It creates both strong story beats and interesting visuals — the Holy Grail for comic book art.
There are some nice pieces to “Sinergy,” but it all needs more polish. Oeming and Soma have clearly created a cool world. They just need to nail the logic of its inhabitants.