Modern supernatural stories like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Ghostbusters often present us with a world where science and the occult co-exist. Magic hides in the shadows, silently shaping the world while science openly improves life while maybe helping to track down a monster or two. “Mythic #1” shakes up this ‘dual but equal world’ while setting itself up to be one of the most interesting comics coming out this summer.
The world behind Mythic tries to answer a simple but engaging question: what if everything we know about the word isn’t actually true? So take everything you know about cosmology, biology, evolution, and throw it out the window because it is simply a story told to you to make the world make sense. The sun is actually pulled by a chariot and earthquakes are the result of lizards wrestling. It’s fun right? And it definitely doesn’t present science as “equal” to magic. Now if we could get past the clunky set up in this first issue and move on to the actual story, I think we’ll have a creative new experience.
The delivery of the great premise behind Mythic is disappointingly straight forward. An everyday guy proves his worth against a supernatural entity, gets introduced to a shady organization that combats supernatural issues and they go on adventures hunting down things that go bump in the night. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this set up. And as Men In Black, Supernatural, X-Files, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellboy and countless others have taught us, this is a formula that lends itself well to serialization. But in terms of plot structure, this is a pretty tried and true method of telling stories and Mythic doesn’t do anything new with it this first issue.
My main critique of this comic lies in the clunky exposition. Exposition is necessary for any first issue but there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. Mythic gets it so wrong that it shoots past awkward and almost circles back to adorable. For example, after our protagonist has ‘proved himself’, a man almost literally comes out of the shadows and just flat out tells him (read: the audience) exactly what the Mythic organization is and then recruits him into it without any application process. If this seems a little fast, don’t worry, the writer noticed and tries to play it off with the cheeky line, “Nate, I’m not just here to spew cryptic exposition about your new found destiny.” This is the type of line that works in a comic like Deadpool, but I’m not sure Mythic earns it. As a general rule, if the only thing you can do to patch over your poor exposition is call attention to it with a wink and nod, then just maybe you should go through another draft. Just saying.
In general the Mythic team spouts off dialogue that would be totally incoherent to most other people, but instead of a human reaction, regular people just follow along for no discernible reason. Another example is when forest rangers show up and tell the Mythic team that they need to leave a campground and put out a fire. They spout some nonsense that is hilarious and I don’t want to spoil it, but the strange thing is the ranger just kind of takes it. Now, maybe it’s the fact that it’s a forest ranger and not a cop or maybe it’s the fact that all the characters are white, but I found myself wondering, ‘in what world do these people not get shot?’ I think we’re supposed to just accept this in a similar way to how The Doctor from Doctor Who just shows up and starts spouting nonsense that shocks people into submission, but he only gets away with it because he is a very charismatic character. Mythic hasn’t really developed any knockout characters this early into the series.
So, I realize I’ve been a little hard on Mythic thus far and you might find yourself wondering why I still recommend the book. And the answer is fairly straightforward: this book is fun. A lot of credit goes to John McCrea’s art which is completely satisfying. The monsters are both grotesque and strangely intriguing. He’s also doing some fun stuff with highly detailed backgrounds that I love. Every page just drips with character and takes me back to reading old EC horror comics. The kind that disgust and enthrall with their gross monsters and urban legends. Also, while I might have a problem with the exposition, the opening sequence to this comic is one of the best paced openings I’ve read in a long time.
Mythic is clunky. There is no way around it. The dialogue is stilted and awkward for about 75% of the time this first issue. I’m also not sure how they are going to manage to sell an audience on the whole ‘science, as a whole is, a lie’ thing considering the world we live in uses science for almost every conceivable aspect of life. But at the end of the day a comic like this isn’t great because of how much sense it makes. Mythic speaks to a certain gut level lust for low brow humor, deliciously gross monsters, and just enough cosmic jargon to make you feel like you aren’t a total idiot for loving it. In short, this is the perfect summer comic. Something to stow away with on a hot day and think about monsters, grossness, and what it looks like when a mountain has sex with the sky – because yeah, that’s a thing that happens in the word of Mythic. And that’s a world I want to read more of.
8/10 Solid Recommendation