reflection

A sharp and intelligently written comic, Duo #1 is another solid entry into DC's Milestone initiative let down a peg by just so-so visuals.
Writing/Plot
Pencils/Inks
Colors
Letters

Review: DUO #1 – Finishing Each Other’s…Biomed Projects!

From writer Greg Pak (Star Wars: Darth Vader, The Incredible Hulk) and artists Khoi Pham (Teen Titans, The Mighty Avengers) and Scott Hanna comes a new Milestone comic with one unique couple dynamic in Duo #1. Featuring colors by Chris Sotomayor and letters from Janice Chiang, this new chapter is held aloft by a fantastic, engaging script but let down by some just *okay* visual work.

“Nanotech engineers Dr. Kelly Vu and Dr. David Kim are committed to only one thing more than each other: using their regenerative nanobots to save the world. And following a violent attack, those very same nanobots end up saving David and Kelly’s lives…sort of. Their salvation comes with an unexpected consequence: husband and wife awaken to realize that they now share one super-powered body! But how close is too close, with the love of your life literally in your head? And what happens when a couple so closely bound discovers they have very different ideas about how their newfound powers should be used?”

Writing & Plot

A capitalist conspiracy, a compelling couple, and genuine emotional stakes make for one great first issue script in Duo #1. Greg Pak charms readers with a happily in-love pair in Doctors Kelly Vu and David Kim, and makes them even better with his sense of dialogue and characterization. This is a couple that wants solely to use their knowledge and resources to improve the world around them. Pak hits us with these altruistic tendencies from the opening pages, and makes us fall even more in love with this couple via their excellent dialogue. This is a couple that is sickeningly in love, but the text never gets too bubbly or cringe-y. Pak effectively makes this pair so loveable so that when tragedy at the hands of greedy a-holes strikes, it’s genuinely upsetting. What develops after this book’s major catastrophe is a wild combination of cool yet conceptually terrifying. Two people occupying the same body, even the most loving of couples, is a mortifying thought. The potential of what this titular duo can do with this incredible nanobot-driven power is exciting, and I also cannot wait to see them kick the crap out of the fat-cats that are responsible for their situation.

Art Direction

The sort of bright, futuristic aesthetic of Earth-M in Duo #1 is brought to life by the pencils of Khoi Pham. His compositions and character animations carry this comic’s pacing and endear readers to Kelly and David. His designs for some specific enemies that arrive are creepy and outright unnerving, adding a slice of horror into this superhero comic. This issue’s sense of pacing is carefully cultivated by how Pham builds sequences. He makes decisive cuts and shots on mostly larger panels that make the reading experience flow smoothly across the pages. His work here is largely very solid. However, I hate to say it’s the other areas of the art that fall short. The inks here lack any sort of definition and, when combined with the color style, make the comic look almost clay-like. Character features end up appearing soft and gummy and it results in pages that can be difficult to fully engage with. The colors, while vivid and rich in tone, have a sort of hyper-digital effect that could rub some readers the wrong way. It isn’t inherently bad, but could be considered an acquired taste. Oddly enough, similar inconsistencies were a part of the first issue of the new Blood Syndicate, so maybe it’s just an odd creative choice in the new Milestone books. The lettering from Janice Chiang is clean and completely serviceable, with fluid font changes and solid SFX lettering that blends into the reading experience well. Overall, this is a perfectly readable visual experience that I wish had been looked over a couple more times.

Verdict

Duo #1 is a comic with a fantastic script and solid penciling that is let down by inconsistent detail work. Greg Pak’s writing here is compelling, with great dialogue and twists that will bring out genuine emotional reactions from readers. Despite some great pencils from Khoi Pham, the details work in the inks and colors leaves something to be desired. Overall however, this comic is absolutely worth a pickup, so be sure to grab a copy when it hits shelves on May 17th!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.

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Review: DUO #1 - Finishing Each Other's...Biomed Projects!A sharp and intelligently written comic, Duo #1 is another solid entry into DC's Milestone initiative let down a peg by just so-so visuals.