Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Alvaro Sarraseca
Colorist: Chris Blythe
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Release Date: 20th June 2018
A coming-of-age journey of discovery through subterranean New York on the trail of the lost city of Atlantis. A teenage girl, and motley ensemble, search for her missing professor father into the literal underworld of the Metropolis.
At first glance, The Lost City Explorers sounds like a potential hit on the back of the wave of recent nostalgia influenced successes; almost a modern-day Goonies with the chance to sprinkle on pop culture references to create something which can stand on its own.
Unfortunately, despite all the best intentions, it just doesn’t hit the mark in this first issue.
The cold open is fine and lands the weird straight away; this sets the overall tone and hints at a more action-based mystery series reminiscent of the big sci-fi television shows of that genre. Sarraseca and Blythe deliver fine art which builds upon the televisual cold open style. There isn’t anything which stands out as particularly quirky or distinctive but it doesn’t need to as it does the job nicely.
From the disappearance of Professor Dan in the eerie caverns below, we switch to the noise and bustle of some nightclub and are introduced to our protagonist Hel (short for Helen), the missing professor’s daughter. The troubled teen schtick (absent mother, grumbly older brother Homer, work-devoted father) is believable enough, but the issue feels too rushed to give the other characters time to bed in. From the nightclub to her missing father’s funeral, yeah the big bad company her father works for said it was a gas explosion, through to the colleague saying I’m not crazy but come with me on an adventure to find your father – it’s all just a bit too much.
This story has a novel idea that is different enough to produce a potentially good yarn. Within the confines of this short issue though, the suspension of disbelief takes a bit of a roughing up. The overall effect is that we know where we start and where we are headed but in the rush to get there, there’s no time to take in the view. In an hour–long TV pilot you get the sense that this would be fine, but in these 20-odd pages it might have been better to start further down the track and flashback the pertinent information upon which to hang the character motivation.
Aside from questionable pacing, there isn’t anything jarringly wrong here, but in a crowded market it’s going to struggle to stand out. With the apparent protagonist Hel getting the majority of the limelight we only really see the other characters as a reflection of their interactions. With background exposition out of the way, Kaplan will hopefully be able to focus on the characters and their quest, shifting this into a higher gear. Hitting the bullseye in the last panel there’s definite promise of adventure to follow.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster