Review–Stephenson’s Nowhere Men takes a look at the future of fringe science

This month Image Comics released a new series aimed at the “science is cool” movement and possibly fans of the Fringe TV series.

Nowhere Men begins by focusing on four men: Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange and Thomas Walker, each a scientist in his own right, the group has formed a company called World Corp. and their cutting edge science has propelled them to rock star status.  Writer (and Image Comics publisher) Eric Stephenson doesn’t give us any time to know these characters, however, other than via an insert bio of each company founder.  Instead he brings us to them as they are about to “break up the band.”  In a sort of throwback to the opening of RoboCop, where the Omni Consumer Products company there has a major screw-up resulting in a machine killing a man in a beta test, here a World Corp. experiment goes out of control and the deaths serve to form the moral dilemma that will divide the team.

We then meet the unfortunate human test subjects of World Corp.’s questionable designs, who learn in a quarantine lockdown that they have no one looking out for them and they may or may not know exactly how far they are away from anyone who can help them.  Will these test subjects prove to be the “Nowhere Men” or does that refer to the company execs?  We get no answer in Issue #1.

Nate Bellegarde’s panel art is simple and straightforward, following Stephenson’s fairly quick trip through this new world.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your taste, Bellegarde’s style is reminiscent of Robert Smigel, Mike Judge and Travel Foreman–his characters just aren’t very pleasant to look at.  Where some artists focus on a character that is carried from page to page in a realistic way, you won’t look at every character in Nowhere Men and have a view as to what they might look like in real life.  Some appear outright ugly.

A nice addition to Issue #1 are several mock ads for World Corp., much in the way Ridley Scott did with releasing Weyland Industries ads in this year’s Prometheus marketing.  These in-world touches help pull the reader into the board room and laboratory living quarters world of Nowhere Men.  The title, from the Beatles tune, is also catchy and the marketing for the series could hardly look better.

With many new Image Comics #1 releases this month as well as some solid November offerings from other publishers, Stephenson will need to amp up future issues in storytelling and scope to gain a permanent reader base and keep the series going.  Fans of the TV series Fringe who miss their weekly fix may find some familiar territory in Nowhere Men, too.

C.J. Bunce

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