EP0030: Noble, Vol. 1: God Shots

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The Catalyst Prime Universe begins with an amnesiac astronaut flying about the desert while his wife sets out to beat down anyone who stands between her and her husband.

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Read Catalyst Prime: The Event for free.
Transcript :

Find out about Noble. Is he a noble success, a noble fire or not noble and all. Find out as we take a look at Noble: Volume One: God Shots, straight ahead.

Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.

While we talk a lot about Marvel and D.C. but there are other superhero universes out there and one just got started last year. It’s the Catalyst Prime Universe from Lion Forge Comics. I’m going to take a look at the first book they released as a trade paperback. Now I did find an interview that they did just before the launch of cattle last primes first leadoff book, The Event, and there were some.. actually kind of interesting statements from Joseph Illidge who is the co-writer of the first story in the Catalyst Prime Universe and also is the founder of the company. He says, “Catalyst Prime is a superhero universe but it’s pretty rooted in science”. Well, the essential way that people get their powers in the Catalyst Prime Universe involves an event where several astronauts go off to stop a collision with the earth that would be an extinction level event, and they come back with superpowers and there are superpowers as a result of the fallout because apparently that’s how science works. I guess if there’s anything that’s more scientific about this universe having it come from a single event, it’s that it’s probably slightly more likely that an event happens that causes strange changes in a multitude of people rather than separate events occurring where, for example, in the Marvel Universe you have the Fantastic Four getting transformed into superheroes by getting exposed to cosmic rays right before Peter Parker’s bitten by a radioactive spider and Bruce Banner exposes himself to gamma rays creating The Hulk and Hank Pym discovers the ability to shrink himself down. It’s slightly more plausible, I think, claiming the authority of science might be a bit much.

Elad says, “A second thing, quite frankly, is that Catalyst Prime is new. I think that we’re singing in attrition of the capacity of fans tolerance for change. I think they’re exhausted. I think they’re tired of the reboots of Superman. They’re tired of the rebirths of the Marvel Universe. It’s exhausting and it’s confusing. The idea that people can come into the Catalyst Prime line of books and start now, get it in on the ground floor of it, I think that’s exciting for people”. I think that…there’s some things that’s problematic about that. For one, it’s kind of like he’s dishing on those other companies. It’s like a negative attack ad from a political campaign, but also assumes that by not being Marvel and D.C. and not having this massive continuity that that’s going to draw fans, when the fact is that there have been several companies to come before that have tried this. He was part of One Milestone, there’s also been Dynamite, Dark Horse, Image and so many others. Certainly there’s a point where people get tired of being over-continuitied and retcons with characters they like, but you also if you’re going to take advantage of that you need to provide them other characters they’re going to like.

So, does the first Catalyst Prime book ‘Noble’ do that? So, in revealing this I am actually going to start at the end of the book, at least the digital version of the book I read. I’ll talk about the big event comic that launched the Catalyst Prime Universe: The Event, which could have been called something slightly more creative. The event comic known as The Event, but at any rate it finds a team of astronauts about to be sent on a private space mission by the owner of Force Psi[?] Incorporated, a powerful Mexican C.E.O. known as Lorena Payan who holds the key to earth’s future. She is the only one who can save us from being hit by an asteroid, or so we think. As the issue goes on we get introduced to a lot of characters who are key to the Catalyst Prime Universe.

Now if there is one complaint about the event, it’s that they these are really just shortening it so you only get a taste of what these characters are like. But I give credit to Christopher Priest and to Illidge for…since he co-wrote it, that they do make some emotional moments in the course of the story. Payan is an interesting character because throughout the book it seems like she is just this very noble, virtuous person who is doing this out of the goodness of her heart and struggling with it, and that it is all to save the earth. But it turns out at the end not quite to be the case, and it does set the direction for the rest of the Catalyst Prime Universe. I won’t spoil the ending. I will say the person who realized what she was up to behaved very, very foolishly and that was probably my biggest problem with that.

You can actually read Catalyst Prime: The Event for free. It was a free comic Book Day Giveaway and it’s available on comicology.com for free. I will say that there were some complaints by those who bought the book that they were being given this issue repeatedly. The first volume of multiple books have The Event in it, so they were paying for it multiple times. Suppose that the folks at Lion Forge might look at it as they’re being included as a free bonus on a four issue trade, so it’s kind of a glass half full, glass half empty sort of debate, but just be aware that if you buy say Noble:Volume One and Accel: Volume One those are two of the first trades in the Catalyst Prime Universe. Both will include The Event, so just make that judgment when you’re making your purchasing decision.

Well, the story of Noble itself finds astronaut David Pow alive, but his family not knowing it he’s presumed to be dead and he has telekinetic powers but he doesn’t know who he is, but he is going around trying to help people where he can and travelling around from place to place. Paya is trying to recapture him and his wife has become aware that he is alive, and so Astrid Alan Powell is coming after her husband.

Well, what works about this book? I think the art it’s not great but it is serviceable. I think the same thing could be said for his design, it’s not something that is going to blow you away but it is a pretty classic superhero design for a character who flies around with electronic aid. Astrid, I think, is really good and interesting character. She has a past as an agent and is coming after her husband and shows a lot of determination, and there are some very interesting, well-drawn scenes involving her. The book’s big flaw, I think, is that it tries to be too clever. Throughout this first volume it is hopping around constantly in time. It can be hard to figure out: did this event happen before or after what we read in the previous page? It is a bit confusing at times so I think I’m pretty well able to piece it together despite the disorientation early on. But this is really an odd volume to begin your shared comic books universe on. You’re beginning with a character who has amnesia – he doesn’t know who he is and neither do we as readers, and that is where we end up at the end of the first volume, and not really having made a whole lot of progress to understanding this character or whether he’s going to be worth continuing to read.
Now this does have fewer issues than your standard D.C. or Marvel trade which usually goes six issues and I think that’s fine. You can do a book or trade in four issues, but you’ve really got to have a complete story, you’ve got to cover some ground and I don’t think this book does that particularly effectively. If you really had to begin with this character who has amnesia, if that’s how you want to begin his adventures, it will be better if the focus were solely on him and we were in his point of view as he’s dealing with these issues, trying to process and figure out who he is. I think I have a pretty good idea about who Lorena is and who Astrid is by the end of the book, even though there are still some mystery about the precise nature of her background. It’s clear it involves some work with an agency where she was trained in martial arts and capable of killing. But I only have the vaguest clue about David Powell, the hero of the book, and what his background is, and how the event changed him on the inside beyond the outer change of getting the powers.

Because of this not really fully understanding or even being able to make a start with understanding our hero by the end of the first volume, I’m going to give Noble: Volume One: God Shots a rating of Not Classy. Now I will say that I am not totally off of the Catalyst Prime Universe. I did actually take a look at some of the other books and I found myself a bit curious about Superb, so I think I might check that one out, but I doubt I’ll be revisiting Noble anytime soon.

Alright, well that’s it for today. If you do have a comment email it to me: classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter where I share. I’m using panels from my comics that I’m reading through @ClassyComicsGuy and check out my website classycomicsguy.com. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.

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