“Hellcyon” #1 seems a lot better when you skim through it. Upon closer inspection, it’s not nearly as good as it looks.
Lucas Marangon clearly has talent to spare. He draws in a style that recalls Otomo’s “Akira,” but he also looks like he comes from the school of early-Ladronn. This is art with some impressive architectural detail and stylized characterization. It’s manga-influenced without looking third-rate. It’s Lucas Marangon, making his visual mark on the comic book scene, with exo-suits and space marines and freedom fighters in armor and transforming motorcycles. His characters look eerily like the waifs of Margaret Keane — which I find a bit disconcerting, actually — but they’re certainly distinctive.
Yet this opening issue feels manufactured from bits of other sci-fi serials, crafted to recall the better parts of previous works, and it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of soul all its own.
I don’t know Marangon’s narrative influences, but the first issue reads like a dash or two of Heinlein, a healthy dose of the previously-mentioned “Akira,” some of Tagami’s “Grey,” and a generic young adult novel about high school students turned urban guerillas. Or maybe it’s “Red Dawn: 2112.” Those things might make for an interesting story, but Marangon uses them as the story, instead of the texture. There are some bits of dialogue and narration that reveal something about personality, but the characters are mostly just staples that hold the story influences together. I don’t get any sense of who these characters are beyond their (admittedly strange) visual appearance and what they say about themselves. There may be hidden depths, but they aren’t implied. The characters might as well be video game icons, for all we know. But they seem even less interesting than that.
Marangon has ambition, though, and that you can feel in “Hellcyon” #1. He introduces plenty of locations and a bundle of characters in this first issue, and that probably leads to the lack of depth. He may yet give this visually-fascinating world a soul, a heartbeat, that would make it seem like more than just a chance to draw the cool stuff he likes to draw. It’s the future. Anything’s possible.