In a crowded marketplace, it’s easy for a mini-series starring a brand-new character to slip through the cracks regardless of quality. That almost happened with me and Dennis Hopeless and Mike Norton’s “The Answer!” which is now halfway through its four-issue run. I’m glad it didn’t, though; “The Answer!” #2 has built on the strengths of its first installment and is doing a fine job of making us believe that its protagonist is as smart as she’s supposed to be.
“The Answer!” #2 picks up right where the previous issue left off, with Devin and the Answer on the run from the people who have been trying to capture Devin after she solved what was supposedly the world’s hardest puzzle. What ensues is in many ways a perfect balance of action and drama, as men in hospital scrubs continue to come after the duo while a group of people in a limousine go for a softer approach.
What struck me right away is how Hopeless and Norton have plotted “The Answer!” in a way that each issue doesn’t rest on its laurels of the previous one. It would have been easy, for instance, to have “The Answer!” #2 and 3 both consist entirely of Devin and the Answer on the run from their pursuers, and then wrap everything up in the fourth issue. Instead, though, Hopeless and Norton have allowed for big plot changes in each issue, making sure that the status quo from the start of an issue is not the same by the end. That’s a refreshing change.
Even more important, though, is the depiction of Devin in “The Answer!” #2. In the first issue, we got to see her use her mind a lot to quickly establish her smarts. They do the same in the second issue, but in a different manner. There’s less opportunity for random facts or pieces of knowledge to need to be unloaded, but Hopeless and Norton still convey to the reader that Devin is brilliant. It’s one thing to just tell us that, it’s something entirely different to actually show it, but they pull it off. I think that’s ultimately what has captured my attention more than anything else, and I appreciate the hard work that the duo put in to make sure that it works.
Norton’s been drawing more books than I can count these days and it’s all the more impressive that this doesn’t look rushed or ragged. His figures are well drawn, and there’s a good physical energy from one panel to the next. I also like how Norton calls back to earlier pages when the time is right. When Devin and the Answer are attacked by the orderlies, at the bottom of page seven we get the Answer fighting them, complete with a fist coming out of the right edge of the page. At the bottom of the next page, it’s a clever reversal of that image as Devin’s arm comes out of left edge of the page to attack the guy in the limousine with pepper spray. Same overall motion and visual line of attack, but different characters as our duo is split up from one another.
“The Answer!” #2 is a fun comic; Hopeless and Norton work well together, both in the co-plotting as well as the division of labor between scripting and drawing. At this point I’m definitely on board for the remaining two issues, and am already hoping for more down the line. It’s a fun, smart little superhero comic; definitely worth taking a look at for fans of the genre.