THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 by James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair
James Tynion IV has crafted a fantastic entry for DC's New Age of Heroes. While the prominent focus on world-building cuts down on the overt characterization, the overall plot feels well balanced and the character designs and art are some of the best in comics.
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DC’s “New Age of Heroes” has opened creative doorways for some of its best writers and artists. Spinning off from DARK NIGHTS: METAL, this initiative sees the arrival of brand new heroes and groups. Sideways, Brimstone, Damage, and the Terrifics have led the charge with intense storylines and some fabulous allusions to old-school comic book themes. The love for Silver Age science and magic just shines in these pages. New this week, though, is a rather special team of superheroes. Designed by DC creative director Jim Lee and superstar writer James Tynion IV, THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 hits shelve this week. Yet will this story have as long of a life as its heroes?

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Caden Park has had nightmares for years. In said nightmares, monsters hunt him for a gift hidden deep within his genes. Thankfully, each and every night, he’s saved by a mysterious man and taken to an equally mysterious school. His therapist thinks he has an overactive imagination, but Caden knows differently. An entire world exists just beneath his own, in which great heroes battle evil monsters. He just doesn’t know how to get there yet. However, when a threat from this mysterious underworld tracks Caden down, it will take the entire strength of the Immortal Men to save his life.

Ghosts, Guns, and Tomahawks

THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 surprised me with its incredibly balanced plot. I expected a story that either dug too deeply into its lore or potential action sequences. In fact, I had leaned toward the latter based on DC’s previews. However, the story manages to do some hard work. It balances world-building, intense action, and deep character moments perfectly throughout. Much of this can be attributed to Caden Park’s presence in the story, as he helps ground the reader in all of the science-fiction chaos. However, Tynion IV isn’t afraid to break away from Park’s perspective. We get the opportunity to see the world through Park’s eyes as well as those of already established heroes, giving the story two interesting points of view.

My next “issue” isn’t actually a problem that I had with the material. However, it may bother some readers. THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 feels very much like the Silver Age of Comics. It uses a lot of strange, science-fiction terms and concepts without going into much detail about them. The creators even explain that the villainous “Infinite Woman” is so old that she created war and conquest. Tynion IV seems to just expect readers to go along with it, and for the most part, I do. Some readers, though, may want a bit more of an explanation. I personally feel like this takes a lot of inspiration from Kirby’s work on the NEW GODS. As such, I can forgive this lack of information. After all, this is only the first issue of what will hopefully be a long-running series.

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The Power of the Swipe

THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 page 2-3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Caden Park is an interesting character. He isn’t particularly deep as of yet, but he draws my attention from the first page. I love that we get to see so many aspects of his everyday life. In fact, we spend so long with the character that, when he finally declares his existential boredom, we wholly agree. However, he’s so much more than a bored teenager. He wants excitement, yes, but only that of a superhero. He wants to save people. Caden believes it to be his destiny to become a superhero. That feels very relatable in a way. While us readers might not believe we WILL become superheroes someday, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to. Caden’s emotional landscape so closely mirrors that of many of his readers, making him the perfect avatar to attach to in this story.

I didn’t, however, feel as attached to the rest of the cast. A lot of names were just randomly thrown into the void without much context. Ghost Fist, Reload, Stray, Timber, the Immortal Man, the Infinite Woman. These characters all have names and faces, but no personalities as of yet. I’m willing to look past this here because this is only the first issue. I appreciate that Tynion IV isn’t trying to overwhelm his readers with extraneous information. However, I didn’t even get a full sense of the battlefield here. This may come in the next issue but, while the overarching worldbuilding fascinated me, I didn’t feel like the reasons behind the battle were properly explained. Why are so many people targeting Caden Park? I don’t need to know everything right away, but I do want a bit more of a sense of the stakes.

Creative Masters

Immortal Men #1
THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

There is a reason Jim Lee has such sway on the comic book industry. His creative work on X-MEN, BATMAN: HUSH, and the New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE are nothing short of genius. His art style has defined the modern conception of the “comic book” look. With that said, it should be no surprise that his work on THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 is some of the best in modern comics. Every page just exudes energy. Every panel, every line, every shadow is filled with electricity. More importantly, his character designs for the team are incredible. I love the allusions to classic characters. Ghost Fist, for example, looks like a combination of Green Hornet and the Spirit. This only lends to the fact these characters have lived for hundreds of years.

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As always, Jim Lee has paired with the inimitable inking talent of Scott Williams. Like the pencils, the inks leap off the page. Williams plays with a lot of heavy blacks, and in THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 especially, he experiments a bit with silhouettes. This gives the book a far moodier atmosphere that’s only amplified by the colors of Alex Sinclair. Seriously, I have never seen such a wide and diverse palette in a comic. Some artists wouldn’t be able to make this work, giving the book a sense of chaos. However, Sinclair’s colors never have that overwhelming feeling. These three artists, working together, have created one of the most visually beautiful books on the market.

Final Thoughts: THE IMMORTAL MEN #1

THE IMMORTAL MEN #1 has its flaws. While its characterization of its main character succeeds on nearly every level, the rest of the cast suffers a bit from a lack of personalization. Meanwhile, certain readers might not take to the over-the-top science-fiction feel of the story. However, I loved nearly every moment of this book. It’s such a satisfying read, incorporating some of the absolute best art in the business. Also, with this story’s surprising mid-point cameo, I feel like this is a must-read for fans of DARK: NIGHTS METAL. It seems to have much larger implications for the DC Universe than other stories in the New Age of Heroes.

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