A series that had some nice ideas and art ends poorly.
To have the details SPOILED for you read on…
When I first heard about the concept of Reality Check—a comicbook writer’s newest superhero creation escapes his mind and enters the real world—I had plenty of apprehensions. I worried that the series would be too meta, take itself too seriously, or be too much like other comics-crossing-over-into-life stories I’d read. Luckily, none of that happened. But it still ended up being a bit of a flop.
I think the biggest problem with this series, and in particular with this final issue, is a lack of energy. The conclusions reached were all inevitable, and the routes taken there were uninteresting. One of the major parts of the story from the beginning was how deeply protagonist Will was affected by the death of his brother when they were in college. It’s the event that pushed him to focus on making comics, and ultimately led to the creation of Dark Hour, the newly-popular character who has escaped his book and become an annoying part of Will’s real life. In this conclusion, Dark Hour blurts out a major revelation about Will’s brother’s demise, and the explanation offered as to how a fictional character could have secret knowledge about the past is the worst kind of hand-waving. Also, the details Dark Hour uncovers may be surprising to the characters in the book, but they were all heavily hinted at in earlier issues s0 even a half-observant reader could have sussed them out by now.
That weak bit of plot development plus Will’s lackluster (and equally predictable) reunion with his former girlfriend make Reality Check #4 a boring read from start to finish. Nothing that happens in it is the least bit unexpected, and what little action there is all occurs at the beginning, so the whole second half of the issue (or more) is just cheesy, overly tidy wrap-up dialogue from the whole cast. Glen Brunswick feels like he’s going through the motions here, letting his story’s already less-than-impressive momentum do the work for him. There’s not a lot of fresh creativity present here, or any attempts to liven things up. The balls are already in motion, and Brunswick just watches them roll for this whole last chapter until friction naturally brings them to an unsatisfying halt.
Artist Viktor Bogdanovic does work that is perfectly in line with what he’s produced for the rest of this series. It’s almost the right mix of old-school superhero style, depressing bleakness, and lighthearted comedy for what this story wants to be. The problem, I think, is that the story doesn’t quite reach the emotional highs or lows it wants to, but the art does, making them something of a mismatch. Dark Hour’s foe Devil-Inside, who also breaks through to reality, is a legitimately disgusting, disturbing guy. His character design, in more of a horror setting, could be effectively terrifying. Even in a straight superhero book, I can see him easily fitting in, and since he’s supposed to be from such a book, I suppose that may well be what Bogdanovic was shooting for. BUT…he’s not actually a character from that kind of series, but instead is part of the semi-goofball cast of this comic, and when he’s with the rest of them, he clashes. The level of evil and fear he means to spread doesn’t go with the rest of this narrative, and it makes his threats and even his actions pack considerably less oomph.
I have several other problems with this issue and series, big and small. The most obnoxious, though, and most detrimental to this closing beat, is Will’s ex-girlfriend (and current girlfriend by the end) Alison. She’s basically a lack of personality in a dress. Everything she says is robotic and weird, even when she’s expressing her emotions out loud. She’s stiff in her dialogue, and Bogdanovic doesn’t add a great deal of liveliness to her visually, either. She’s a generic good-looking brunette with big breasts who has three basic emotions: brief happiness, brief sadness, and enduring pouting.
I quite wanted this to be as entertaining and amusing a comic as I think it thinks it is. Sadly, there’s just too little to it, and what’s available is bland. That’s been true all along to one degree or another, but here in the finale, it becomes more apparent and aggravating. I should have been happy that everyone got what they deserved, good or bad, but instead I was bored by it. I would’ve rather had something unthinkably tragic happen at the end, because that, at least, would be interesting.