Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Priscilla Petraites
Colourist: Marco Lesko
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Tim Seeley/Mike Norton
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
From writer Tim Seeley, author of Hack/Slash and Revival for Image Comics, and Grayson for DC Comics, comes a new tale of errant superpowers in an American dystopia. Following a colossal explosion in Jerusalem, caused by a super-powered girl, a self-proclaimed ‘journalist’ called Kennedy Avis stumbles across a conspiracy that may affect the entire world. Soon, she is neck-deep in super-powered chaos. However, with her less than reputable journalistic integrity, will anyone actually believe her?
Issue #1 of Brilliant Trash opens with a superpowered individual, calling herself Lady Lastword, who after a brief speech to the whole world, destroys a large chunk of Jerusalem. This is a shocking opening into this world, which is one of unusual powers, bio-hacking and a background undercurrent of cyberpunk. We follow self-proclaimed ‘journalist’ Kennedy Avis as she goes from creating clickbait articles to becoming explosively involved with a conspiracy. After attracting the attention of the ominous Lifespan International, and their nigh indestructible agent Heller, Kennedy ends up host to something very powerful, courtesy of the enigmatic Dr Zhen.
Issue #2 picks up the story mere minutes later, with Kennedy finding herself in the company of so-called ‘God hackers’; those who use artificial means to give themselves superpowers. Initially helpful, they persuade Kennedy to stay. Suffering from unwanted memories transferred from Zhen, Kennedy realises almost too late that these hackers want what she has, and her survival is largely secondary. To make things worse, Heller has zeroed in on her location, and capturing Kennedy alive is his primary goal…
Brilliant Trash is an interesting take on superhero origins, and happily pokes fun at our obsession with trashy internet articles and meme-worthy content. The society shown here is an exaggerated version of real-world America, where our day to day obsessions are highlighted and skewered with satire, making the fantastical parts of the story even more stand-out. Speaking of story, it moves along at breakneck pace, which does keep the action engaging, but seems to put tension on the backburner in certain scenes. Personally, I would have liked to seen more mystery around the villains (perhaps even keeping them in the shadows for longer) but there is still plenty of scope for expanding their goals and machinations in future issues. The dialogue is often tongue in cheek, and suits the theme to a tee. Additionally, Kennedy is no pushover, quite capable of handling herself, and provides an interesting protagonist to root for. Virtually all characters get a chance to show they are more than just background noise, a testament to Seeley’s writing.
Interestingly, this story also deals with the fallout from overuse of superpowers, and just what it takes to control something so dangerous. There are many stories where a hero or villain is de-powered, but in Brilliant Trash, excessive use can quite literally lead to death. Horrifically, this is used to extremes by Cromwell, the villainous head of Lifespan International, who has no problem burning out superpowered children to achieve his goals. There are also plenty of hooks for the continuing storyline, including a disturbing new character at the end of the second issue.
The art by Priscilla Petraites is bold, dynamic, and handles action scenes with ease. It is also not afraid to take some unusual approaches to the content, with sections of the story showing the social media feeds from this fictional world, complete with all the clickbait and trolling one would expect to see. Characters, specifically their abilities, are easily identified and Petraites makes sure we can see the destructive impact of these powers on the real world. The colours by Marco Lesko help here, with bright background colours highlighting important scenes, and some excellent work with lighting, both from the environment and from the superpowers on display. Marshall Dillon, on lettering duty, provides an admirable job with dialogue and gets to have fun with the diverse arrangement of ‘social media’ posts that make up the bulk of Kennedy’s particular brand of reporting. All in all, it looks as though the future art direction of this series is in safe hands, and adding the occasional unusual (and experimental) panel definitely helps these issues stand out from the crowd.
Mike Norton provides the covers for both Issue #1 and #2, firstly showcasing Lady Lastword herself, in a neon-spattered piece that is reveals no spoilers about content but still provides intrigue. For Issue #2, the cover is a more traditional group shot of the superpowered ‘God hackers’ that are key to this issue, again providing hints about the universe with no immediate spoilers. Tim Seeley and Priscilla Petraites provide the B covers, showcasing a faintly spoilerly collection of highlights in #1 and a straight-up horror themed design for #2. Again, it is clear that with designs this varied, the art for future issues will be both detailed and interesting, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.
Overall, this is a strong start to the series, and whilst a little hectic on occasion, provides a fun, intriguing story, and a host of interesting hooks for the remaining issues. For a superhero miniseries that has a decidedly different flavour to the norm, check out the first two issues of Brilliant Trash, available from AfterShock Comics.
Brilliant Trash #1 – on sale 11.15.17
Brilliant Trash #2 – on sale 12.13.17
D. J. Baldock is a 30-something scientist, father, profound geek, and writer of superhero novels (‘Alicia’ and ‘Honey’ both available now on Amazon Kindle). In between editing and reviewing for Comic Buzz, he can be found posting nonsense on Twitter.