IDW’s “Byrne-verse” continues to grow with “Triple Helix” #1, the latest offering from longtime comic book creator John Byrn. Tightly tied to the story from last year’s “Trio,” Byrne brings Rock, Scissors and Paper from that title into this adventure and also introduces Apex, Cataclysm, Dart, Javelin and Pylon. The latter quintet should be the stars of this issue, but Byrne really spreads the love around, giving everyone a chance to shine, especially the villain of the piece.
That villain is Golgotha from Byrne’s previous work, which adds a nice, traditional visual for the villain and provides a rallying point for the other characters while adding connective tissue to Byrne’s various creator-owned works. Stepping out further, Byrne expands the cast beyond the eight super-powered heroes and adds in some supporting characters, including reporter Liz Lanning, that come with potential for growth. Byrne doesn’t fret over expansive exposition for his characters, choosing instead to dive into the action and get the story rolling. The issue opens with a couple mundane caption boxes, but from that first image, things get going, playing to Byrne’s preferences to draw wildly gestural characters clashing amidst rubble backgrounds.
Some of his characters are ridiculously thin, others ludicrously large, but they work in John Byrne’s world. It’s Byrne’s own way of celebrating diversity while keeping the characters notably unique. Colorist Leonard O’Grady hits all the right spots, giving “Triple Helix” #1 a throwback appearance with a modern sheen that fits Byrne’s style quite wonderfully. There is an overabundance of swishy-tailed word balloons, but otherwise letterer Robbie Robbins delivers a very solid effort, including the rougher hewn balloons from Stone. Fans of Byrne’s art will delight in this book. Those looking for gritty, heavily-shadowed gore fests in their comic book stories won’t find it as delightful.
Byrne’s artwork is the primary draw. Granted, my tastes and appreciation of his work have evolved over the years, but Byrne’s drawings always trigger a sense of wonder for me, having grown up reading Byrne’s work all over a myriad of DC and Marvel titles. The cover for “Triple Helix” #1 depicts Cataclysm running and immediately threw me back to my youth when I couldn’t wait to pick up the latest issue of “The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe” (deluxe edition, thank you). That series had covers filled with characters running from the spine of the comic to the right-hand side of the cover. As with those covers from yesteryear, there are bits of other characters visible beyond Cataclysm: Apex’s feet, ghost images of Dart as she blazes past and even the lower half of Javelin’s legs. The art is there with the characters in motion, waiting for the readers to race alongside them and see what “Triple Helix” #1 is all about.
Sure, some of Byrne’s heroes’ powers are just downright goofy and others seem like rejects from other stories, but for every headscratcher, Byrne does find a couple that are solidly executed and inviting. As for “Triple Helix” #1, it’s a John Byrne comic with mildly entertaining concept, decent art and characters that are more analogous than original. It’s a fun, entertaining read, but steers clear of anything groundbreaking.