Back in January of this year, I reviewed Runner’s Paradox by Steve Peters. I think it’s fair to say I didn’t love it. Very recently, I received a review copy of Peters’ newest book, Awakening Comics #0. You can read a preview of it here.
Peters describes the issue as "a precursor to [his] Xeric Award-winning series, Awakening Comics. It covers its creator’s entire artistic life, from birth to the time period in which the first issue came out in 1997. It is a prequel issue that sets up the events of Awakening Comics and casts them in a new light." I haven’t read the rest of the Awakening Comics series so my take on the main story in this issue, "Beginnings" is based solely on reading it alone (There’s also a second story in the issue — a jam comic from 1993 that takes up the last 8 pages of the issue, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it and it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with "Beginnings"). I don’t know if reading the whole series would change my mind about this story, but I doubt it.
In a nutshell, there’s an interesting idea here, but it’s not executed well enough.
It seems to me that Peters is interested in nostalgia and childhood and memory. The story, such as it is, starts off with a spaceship coming out of a wormhole in space. Through the appearance of various versions of Peters in the comic, we learn that that the crew of the spaceship and other characters are characters he created growing up making comics. And we get to see a lot of the comics the younger Peters actually made when he was quite young. The characters talk to each other briefly about the comics they’re going to make or have made. There’s not much more going on then that despite some quasi-biblical narrative language floating around.
Like the last book from Peters I reviewed, this is the result of a 24 hour comic effort and you just really wish he’d treated it as the rough draft and went back and reworked the thing. There’s certainly an interesting initial notion here — bringing together various versions of you, the creator, into a comic and then tying all of the characters to these versions of you, the creator, but you just wish Peters had built an actually interesting structure on that foundational premise. Here besides fairly bland art from the "present" (and what can you say about the grade school art except that I really do believe it’s his grade school art) and the basic idea of characters from various stages of his life (including versions of himself) meeting up, there just isn’t any there there. Peters includes in the story his first published comic work – a page that appeared in Dave Sims Cerebus #146 and I can see how that experience and memory must be incredibly important to Peters. But it doesn’t mean it’s important to the rest of us.
Note: The creator provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.