Collecting an overlooked adventure of Matt Price that was serialized in Dark Horse Presents #23-25, “Brain Boy” #0 gives readers a chance to absorb the early adventures of Brain Boy in a concise package. Like any collection, however, there are moments of repetition as the previous installment is briefly recapped for the reader who may be joining midstream. Van Lente, however, is savvy enough to avoid formula in those recap moments, making the whole story just a bit smoother.
While the title itself is a little awkward, “Brain Boy” #0 is less a tale of a rejected Legion of Super-Heroes wannabe and much more a lethal James Bond, Jr. meets Charles Xavier high-octane adventure. A subcontracting, manufactured telepath working for the United States Secret Service, Matt Price (a.k.a. Brain Boy) serves as the mental equivalent of a bomb-sniffing dog, ensuring a safe environment awaits the President of the United States. With the backdrop of a G8 conference and all of the international attention such a gathering elicits, this comic book Fred Van Lente has ample opportunity to define Price’s character and many of his nuances to readers. Price isn’t an immediately likeable fellow, but Van Lente writes charm and humor into the character, making him someone readers will want to read more about.
The lethal bent of this comic book is evident right from the get-go and Freddie Williams II’s heavily detailed, excessively gory art. Within the first third of “Brain Boy” #0, the Secret Service is compromised and Price is forced out of his element, anticipating a fight that stretches beyond his comfort level. Williams captures that nervousness and amplifies it through dramatic camera angles and edgier linework. It’s no secret that Williams favors digital composition, which plays nicely to collaboration with colorist Ego, who constructs mind maps and mental pathways around Brain Boy’s power use. Letterer Nate Piekos also contributes to the visual excitement of “Brain Boy” #0 by setting the thoughts of attacking soldiers in a bold armed services-inspired font.
“Brain Boy” #0 is a nifty slice of what Fred Van Lente brings to this character. Free from continuity, crossovers and even a supporting cast, “Brain Boy” #0 is all about the situation Matt Price is facing and his ability to deal with it. Through this avenue, Van Lente and company are able to establish the character’s voice and enhance the reader’s ability to invest in the character. The story in “Brain Boy” #0 is complete and rewarding enough to walk away from, but Van Lente and crew leave enough open for readers to all but demand more Brain Boy adventures.