Writer: Glen Brunswick
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Release Date: February 5, 2014
For all the promise of Glen Brunswick and Viktor Bogdanovic’s Reality Check, the book doesn’t quite coalesce into something much better than average. It’s a shame, too, because the idea is a good one: comics dude experiences writer’s block, whereupon his own creation pops off his laptop and into his life. This trade paperback collecting the 4-issue miniseries gets a lot of things going for it, including fun genres, “fish out of water” and “meta-artwork,” the latter of which allows for commentary on clichés while fulfilling them (à la “Scream,” “The Last Action Hero,” etc.). It’s high-concept stuff, but high-concept is easier to sell to an audience than it is to execute; expectations are generally high, and nailing down a series of enjoyable twists and turns is tougher than coming up with the idea in the first place.
The problem lies more in the visuals than the writing. Panel by panel, Bogdanovic’s stuff is not so bad. He does especially nice work on pages that mix schlubby reality with shiny superhero, bringing the two styles together in a believable way. Minus Paul Little’s digital coloring, the inks might be better, too, but as is, the book is both too polished and too rough, with flesh rendered in a discordant airbrushed style, with the colors laid awkwardly alongside their outlines. The character sketches in the back are better, but both women and men are all boobs and backsides and inflated muscles. These choices are understandable. When you’re dealing in superhero cliché, you don’t necessarily want normal-looking people cluttering up your pages, and the L.A. setting means even the norms look like mannequins, but it’s distracting nonetheless.
The story is better, if both a little expected in its developments (the important revelation that hinges on a song title is silly and pat) and a little scrawny. Brunswick has a fair amount of plot to get through, and maybe the book would have been better stretched to one more installment to allow more time for jokes. Look at what Joss Whedon does with similar concepts. Look at what Kenneth Branagh has done with Thor. It’s great to see Image publish a title like this, but Reality Check fails to match the high standards set by many of its Image colleagues.