If someone asks me if I want to go to an art museum, I shrug and say “Sure, why not?” Yea, like many, I like art, but I’m not in love with art. I do enjoy myself once inside such a place though. Why all this art talk you ask? Well, while scanning the shelfs last week at the comic book store, I saw a new #1 entitled Art Ops. To be honest, I turned to walk away, but I realized something about that cover looked familiar.

I turned back to get a closer look, and under the title I read “Simon and Allred“. Now we’re talking, I thought, “I LOVE Mike Allred’s work.” Still, the title left me wondering if I would really enjoy this particular book. I picked up the comic and ever so gently peeled back the tape from the bag and removed the comic, ensuring the tape did not stick to the comic. You never know when you might be putting the comic right back in the bag and walking away.

I flipped through and instantly recognized the artwork of Mike Allred. Takes more than art to make a good comic though, so I read the first couple of pages of Shaun Simon’s writing and was sold. I put the comic with the rest of my pull, paid, and left the store. I did something later that night that I haven’t done in a good while. I actually pulled the #1 out of the bag and read it. (I know, I know, comics reading has fallen by the wayside lately with work and writing.) But I took the time to read this one, and it was well worth it.

File Nov 02, 2 03 42 PMSo a little about the comic. First, it reminds me of Jasper Fforde‘s The Eyre Affair: a book that shows literary characters as more than just text on the page. Likewise, Simon and Allred let us in on a secret: art is more than just stone, clay, wood, metal, inks, acrylics, oils, etcetera, and it is the responsibility of Art Ops, a highly secret government organization, to ensure the safety of these “works”. It appears as if someone or something is determined to bring the art world to its knees one priceless piece of art at a time.

File Nov 02, 2 00 30 PMTwo of the main characters seem to be Jones, a highly skilled operative and the head of Art Ops, and her wayfaring son Reggie–who had a difficult upbringing since there was no dad in the picture, and Mom (Jones) was not the best of role models. It’s apparent throughout the comic that Mom loves her son and only wants the best for him. Reggie, however, wants nothing to do with her, even after she saves his life by rather unconventional means. Some might expect Reggie to be somewhat thankful for the new, yet odd, power he has, but when asked to help his mother. . . well, you’ll just have to read the comic to see what occurs.

So, what do I like about this comic? Honestly, pretty much everything. I love that they are playing with our preconceived notions of what art really is and how it works. I won’t say it’s a completely original idea, as Jasper Fforde did something very similar with his books, but it’s a comic with a twist. Will there be superheroes? I’m betting there will be. I’m also guessing they won’t be the typical superheroes common to most comics today.

The art work is typical to Allred. I’m guessing that it’s the type of art work you either like or you don’t. It’s not overly realistic or detailed, and that’s what I like about it. His use of colors, as seen above, is also amazing. He mixes his style between sleek and smooth and using the dots we remember from older comics. I’m also a fan of the panel layouts. When things are calm, the panels reflect this with straight, horizontal and vertical gutters, but when things get a bit chaotic, the panels tend to slant, as above, and at times the borders will be half white and half black. I love it when elements other than the art work and writing reflect moods in the comic. All I can say is that I wish there had been a little more of this throughout the comic.

The writing of Simon is also solid. I was immersed into the comic from the first page. I also love the family dynamic that is beginning to take shape, and on top of that, we have a serious mystery going on. Who or what is trying to wreak havoc in the art world? What is going on with Art Ops? What will Reggie ultimately do? Simon sets into action a complex story line that never once unravels in this first comic. I’m excited to see where we go in #2.

Art Ops can be purchased at your Local Comic Shop or on comiXology.

Overall Score
95 %

Shaun Simon and Mike Allred pair up to create a unique comic that promises to deliver mystery, drama, and some serious mommy issues.

Writing 95%
Art 100%
Layout 90%
Color 95%

About The Author

My name is Dianna, and I hail from the land of the lakes, aka Michigan. My full time job has me running a writing center, teaching writing classes (hopefully soon teaching a comics course), and doing all sorts of techy things, since that’s what I did in a previous life.

At this point in my life, comics are both my passion and my research. I am lucky in that I get to combine my passion into my everyday work. But here at Destroy the Cyborg I get to have fun and chat about what I'm reading. Feel free to chime in on my post, even if it's to tell my how dead wrong I got something.

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