I already wish this wasn't a mini-series. The Answer, from writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Mike Norton, has just four issues to tell its tale, and the first issue is already one heck of a hook. You get introduced to an appealing lead character, a mysterious, hard-nosed superhero, and some sort of not-so-secret cult all in the space of 24 efficient pages.
Devin McKenzie is a whipsmart puzzle nut who attracts the attention of the street-level vigilante known as the Answer when she solves a puzzle (similar in complexity to Hellraiser's Lament Configuration) given to her as a gift by her mother. The puzzle has ties to a motivational group founded on the philosophies of something known as Apeiron - a movement based on the power of chaos. The ties between these elements are not explained right away, and Hopeless really makes you want to know what those connections are.
It's a perfect first issue for a new superhero. I'm averse to debut issues where the only time you ever see the titular hero in costume is on the final page. You've got one issue to hook someone; why structure it where readers barely get a taste of the superhero you're offering? Here, you get to see the character in action quite a bit, with strong nods to a larger backdrop upon which the hero operates. The story is told through McKenzie's eyes, and she's an intelligent, interesting entry point into the Answer's world.
The Answer himself is left intentionally mysterious, at least at this point. He may or may not have the ability to see into the future (we know he's got some kind of precog sense), and he's not against shooting a thug's nards off with a shotgun. In that Punisher vein, his blue-black and white costume is a stunner - a simple design from Norton that makes for a distinct, instantly iconic character. The Answer is cool.
And it's cool without trying to be cool. To call Norton's approach old-fashioned sounds like a back-handed compliment, but The Answer feels confident and professional in a way that used to be more immediately valued by fans. The art isn't Tumblr-ready, but that's sort of the point. Comic book storytelling is for storytelling.
Hopeless is on many people's radar now, due to his work on Marvel NOW's Cable & the X-Force and the controversial Avengers Arena, and The Answer reinforces the notion that he's a writer to watch. There's an overall simplicity and clarity of craft going on in the first issue that feels like Hopeless and Norton are comic veterans working on their umpteenth project together. I have no idea how they got so tight so fast, but I hope we get more than four issues out of it.
(The Answer is a four-issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics. The first issues hits stands today.)