Cryptocracy isn’t your typical series. Instead of following a hero or even someone on the Lawful or Good end of the alignment spectrum, we follow a family who is running the world from behind the scenes. The first issue deals with the sabotage of a dark matter machine, keeping this technology out of the hands of the public. Nine families run the world from underground in sprawling facilities filled with Greys (atypical aliens), and in gigantic floating fortresses. Very little is known about them, other than they wipe minds and want to keep the population of the world under their control. There aren’t any reasons to root for the bad guy just yet, but I haven’t had this much fun reading a first issue in a while.
Cryptocracy is writer Van Jensen‘s first project to hit shelves since leaving DC Comics. His work on Flash and Green Lantern was met with mixed reviews, with a very vocal minority disliking his work. I, for one, enjoyed his DC contributions. Van Jensen is on a roll since leaving DC, however, announcing two titles with Dark Horse, and a month ago, was named US Comic Book Ambassador. Dark Horse has billed Cryptocracy as The X-Files meets A.I.M., I think that’s close, but this series is going to have so much more than just aliens and crazy science, it’s going to depict a shadow war also incorporating magic and maybe even gods. Jensen does a great job raising enough questions to keep readers wanting to return for issue two and beyond, while answering a few in just the first issue. It’s dense with dialogue, but not overwhelmingly so, like a movie with dialogue heavy scenes.
With heavy dialogue, eyes tend to stay on the page longer, only amplifying the art and allowing the reader to linger. Pete Woods‘ art is great when it’s great, but it almost seems too smooth or cartoony for a series about a secret ruling class of families. Don’t get me wrong, Woods is good, but he almost seems inappropriate for the series. It will most likely get better as the series goes on, but then again, a major character is a talking Bugbear, so maybe my point is moot.
Cryptocracy sets up a grand stage that will play out for years, and creates enough questions that it leaves the reader enthralled after the last panel. It hits store shelves June 29 and earns a solid 8 out of 10.