We all have that one friend who was obnoxiously good at everything they put their minds to at a young age. Maybe they picked up foreign languages in the matter of months and were international debate champions at age 10. Or they're a natural when it comes to musical instruments and destroyed piano recitals for everyone before they were in first grade. Prodigy #1 focuses on one such wunderkind dialed up to 11, and it's a lot of fun.
Edison Crane is brilliant -- well, that's a bit of an understatement. Really, Edison's intelligence level might be what you would get if you blended the minds of Bruce Wayne, Reed Richards, Tony Stark and T'Challa, and then stuffed them into the head of a preteen boy. Only then would you be in the neighborhood. Brilliant children who grow up to be brilliant adults is nothing new in comic books. The aforementioned wunderkinds turned superheroes are all prime examples of prodigies putting their minds to work in amazing ways. But Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque's Prodigy quickly establishes Crane as something entirely different.
Prodigy #1 moves at a brisk pace, and over the course of a handful of pages, touches upon key moments in Edison Crane's childhood and adolescence to define what sort of person he is. Millar has a gift for conveying backstory with little exposition, by distilling a character's history to a few key moments. The comic quickly races to the present day, where Edison simultaneously takes daredevil requests from kids and defeats multiple world-class chess champions. But those demonstrations of mental prowess are only window dressing. After all, who would want to read a comic about a guy who wins all the time? We don't need the comic version of Entourage. The real meat of the issue presents itself in the final third, where we're introduced to a potentially world-altering (or worse, world-ending) dilemma, which we will not spoil for you, because it's out of left field, and pretty awesome.
It's important to note that Prodigy is another collaboration between Millar and Netflix, which likely means it's being eyed for live-action adaptation. It certainly has all the makings for a binge-worthy television series. Millar is adept high concept, and whether it turns out to be amazing (Huck for example) or trite (like Nemesis), there's always an intriguing premise at the core. Prodigy #1 is no different, but thankfully, if this first issue is any indications, the series will fall into the former category.
Millar's plotting here is simple, yet effective. We get just enough backstory to find common ground with our protagonist, but not too much to make it feel like a heavy exposition dump. The dialogue is crisp and natural, and funny when it needs to be. And instead of showing us his hand right away, Millar has given us a nice sense of intrigue. The cliffhanger in this first issue also isn't predicated upon something ghastly, which is pretty common in Millar's work. Instead, it just has us wondering where things will go from here.
Albuquerque (American Vampire) is one of the few comic artists working today who can make every panel feel like a cinematic moment. He works in the same realm as Sean Gordon Murphy, Fiona Staples and Olivier Coipel. The action sequences are wonderfully rendered, and not a single image is filler. His subtle backgrounds and solid character work are framed wonderfully, and with an often sparse writer at the helm of the book, it always for his art to stand out more than usual.
Prodigy #1 might be the start of something familiar, yet wonderfully subversive. Millar is the king of twisting expectations (for better and worse), so what we see in the first issue is probably surface-level stuff. What lies beneath will be the real nuts and bolts of this thing. But even if this series focuses on a super-genius solving world crises, that the hero doesn't need to do so by wearing a suit of armor is different enough to keep us intrigued.