One of the great travesties in comics is when a tremendous book coming to an end before its time or is forced to conclude early leaving the last issue or two feeling incredibly rushed and disjointed from the rest of the story. Image Comics’ 21 does not qualify as one of these travesties.
After reading this mini-series it seems that even the Silvestri name couldn’t keep this book afloat for more than three issues. Further proof that the book lacked any support from the organization is that the first two issues were printed on high-gloss paper (new and expensive in the mid-90s) while the third issue was on plain matte paper. Whatever luster this rather boring story had was lost by that point.
Like so many comics of its day, 21 lacked several key components that today’s comics demand: depth of character, interesting characters and storylines that make sense.
The story starts out with a “white-trash” character Scrap Freeman drag racing one of his social betters. After winning he is immediately seen to be a moping mess of bitterness and self-pity. During a run-in with the guy he bested in the drag race (along with two thugs) the sci-fi part of the story is jumpstarted by the appearance of the giant robot 21.
21 was sent back in time to find the man who would, in the future, create the “Internex” an evil…something (it’s never described in the book) that rules the world. The story has a very Terminator 2 vibe, except for the killing and the accuracy. The time-transporter sent 21 to the wrong time, wrong location and apparently without any data on who he was seeking besides a name because the robot mistakes Scrap for a brilliant scientist.
The twist comes when 21’s time-transporter malfunctions and pulls him (and everything in his local vicinity) back to the future, this of course includes Scrap.
Once in the future the story gets even more convoluted with boring attempts at action and a want of intrigue that just falls flat with each passing terrible line of dialogue. There is even a scene where Scrap and his fellow “rebels” are in the low-levels of the massive city and they walk past the statue of Abraham Lincoln that sits at the Lincoln Memorial. Scrap comments on it and with a blasé attitude the response is akin to ‘oh, I always figured it was some important person’. Really? That’s the best you could come up with when dropping something like that into the story?
This is what I’m talking about with stuff falling flat. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a sucker for mid-90s Image/Homage books. My first exposure to indie comics was during this era and it shows in my comics library.
21 gets a D grade for lack of quality, bad writing and no direction of story, which clearly resulted in its cancellation.
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Till next Wednesday…
The Junior Varsity – What it Meant to be Clean, Interpol – Say Hello to the Angels, Moments in Grace – Broken Promises, I Fight Dragons – No One Likes Superman Anymore, Rhett Miller – Four-Eyed Girl, Pearl Jam – Porch, Saves the Day – Freakish, The Devlins – Headstrong, Beastie Boys – Super Disco Breakin’, Guster – Demons, Final Round – Let’s Go, The Lillingtons – Thunder Ball, Exit – Home for an Island, Counting Crows – Angels of the Silences, Incubus – Megalomaniac