Written by Jennifer Muro and Thomas Krajewski
A number of my recent reviews have pointed out the difference that good—or bad—color can make in a comics project.
While lackluster coloring doesn’t necessarily hurt a story, purposeful coloring can majorly enhance comics artwork.
Today’s feature, Primer, is quite literally all about color!
Cleverly written by Jennifer Muro and Thomas Krajewski, with marvelous ears for realistically age-appropriate dialogue, Primer would undoubtedly have been an enjoyable story no matter who its artist turned out to be.
In this case, though, that artist is Argentinean Gretel Lusky, who impressively brings the story’s tween heroine to life in all her variegated glory.
If there’s a precedent for superpowers being conveyed by paint, I’m not aware of it.
This original premise is the back story here, with self-regenerating paints made from superhero DNA stolen from the government before they could be used as weapons.
Ashley, our young heroine, has just gotten ensconced with her latest set of foster parents while her evil real father languishes in prison, still trying to maintain a hold over her. She’s cynical, plucky, independent, artistic, curious, and sneaky as all get out—a modern Eloise, only a little older and with superpowers.
Whilst indulging her curiosity, Ashley finds the paints her scientist foster mom had hidden and, in a series of messy, colorful experiments, catalogs the various powers they can give her, as well as coming to the realization that she can only use three different colors at a time.
To save a crashing airplane, she makes a reckless public appearance under the perfect superhero name, Primer, that brings her to the attention of several interested parties and the hunt is on for the military and others to find her and retrieve the super-paints.
The dialogue throughout Primer reads much more like modern animation dialogue than traditional comic book dialogue, which inevitably tags this as a potential animated series.
Subject wise, I think it would work, although it would surely be even tougher to keep the body paints in the same spots from frame to frame than it is here from panel to panel!
The tween angst feels real and likewise Ashley’s elation at more unaccustomed positive happenings just jumps out at the reader. Ashley and her unlikely foster parents are genuinely likable, as is her sidekick school chum, the villain is genuinely hissable, and the military brass is even shown to have some heart and sense in the end.
That end sets up a sequel and this time I definitely want to see more. Primer is another one that I can say I enjoyed for numerous reasons but mainly because it has something mainstream comic books lost decades ago—It’s fun! Fun for ALL ages!