3 out of 5
Hypernaturals is so overloaded on concept and in media res plotting from the get-go, it’s hard to feel like the story has actually “started” at any point. This isn’t the worst sin in comics, though, especially from solid scripters / idea-ers like Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (or, sigh, “DnA”), who’ve proven to be good for an endless wealth of great sci-fi setups, and characters and worlds that prove their depth over time. For that reason, Hypernaturals manages to be exciting during its gearing up – over a FCBD and first three issues, collected here – while also being a little rough around the edges due to the conceptual excess, and then gets distracted by some comic book tropey subplotting by its third issue.
The Hypernaturals are an officialized superhero team in a world run by “the Quantinuum” – a smart AI which refashioned culture across the galaxy and kicked off “the Nanocene era,” which restarted our calendar years after “the Holocene era,” which might be akin to our current day technology and lifestyle. The HNs feature various figures who either manifest powers or are considered worthy of wielding tech-provided ones, and are then trained for 5-year long stints on the mainline Hypernaturals team. We pick up with the celebration of the 100th outing of one such team, when that outing goes manifestly wrong… and they seem to disappear.
Abnett and Lanning and artists Tom Derenick, Brad Walker, and Andres Guinaldo appreciably don’t go the JLA-adjacent route with their hero designs, coming up with an original team and powers and personalities; this feeds in to that whole Quantinuum world building, which happens very cooly in the background, and via extra in-lore pages of news feeds, or ads for products, or interviews with HN members. Still, it’s a lot of characters and names to keep track of, and as a result, only a few are actually focused on, with the remainder being background fodder for the various scuffles involving previous Hypernatural teams to which we keep flashing back, in order to inform us as to what might’ve happened to the current team. And as mentioned, that “a lot,” as well as that timeline cross-cutting, and starting us right in the midst of this disappearance crisis, gives the book its own meta crisis – who and what is intended to be our focus? The headlong of steam the book has built up then hints at running a bit dry in the third issue, which goes down the cliched drama route with some rookie HN members recruited to fill the gaps from the current roster.
The art and inks are mostly consistent, despite a rotating team, and I dig what Stephen Downer does with the colors, avoiding both the overly cheery look of a lot of mainline hero books, but also not going down the strict filtered look a lot of future-set books favor. The trade collection includes a ton of the alternate covers for the collected issues.