I've been reading comics written by J. Torres for over two decades now (all the way back to the original run of "The Copybook Tales"), and -- if there's one consistent aspect of his work -- it's that he comes up with great concepts. That continues to hold true with his and Corin Howell's new project "The Mighty Zodiac." When a constellation dies in the world of "The Mighty Zodiac," six stars fall from the sky and the members of the Mighty Zodiac have to try and retrieve them before the Moon Rabbit Army can grab them and spread darkness all over the land. However, as great as the concept is, this first issue too often feels a little generic.
There are some fun little moments Torres and Howell handle well early on in "The Mighty Zodiac" #1. I love how we see a single letter transform into one floating Chinese lantern, before dozens of them sail off into the night sky. It's a moment that's so full of wonder it would fit right into a Studio Ghibli film. That said, once we hit the halfway point, those moments feel few and far between, as the anthropomorphic animals of the Mighty Zodiac start to band together to try and retrieve the stars and stop the rabbits. None of the characters stand out, perhaps because Torres introduces them so quickly that they don't get enough time to contrast with one another. Similarly, the big fight over the first star doesn't stand out at all. This should be a huge deal so early in the series, and it just lays flat on the page.
Similarly, some parts of Howell's art are really nice. The scene where messages are sent to the members of the Mighty Zodiac is great, and the final image brings such surprise and despair to the characters' faces that the sudden loss really hits home. However, there are too many other parts that feel like they should also have an equally strong punch. When the characters dives for the star as it sinks into the river, the scene feels anticlimactic, and it's clear from the script that Rabbit One should come across as fearsome; instead, he's never distinct or interesting enough to make him more than a villain spouting some self-promoting threats.
"The Mighty Zodiac" #1 has a ton of potential, but it doesn't rise up past a flat average for the moment. I had a lot of high hopes for this new comic, and -- while it's not bad -- it should also be a lot more gripping right off the bat. Torres and Howell's second issue may smooth things out, but I wish that "The Mighty Zodiac" #1 had made a more mighty first impression. An average-strength zodiac just isn't quite as noteworthy.