ADVANCE REVIEW: Cryptocracy #1

Posted June 6, 2016 by Adeem Khan in Comic Books

**This review is fairly light on spoilers, but those looking to go in clean can grab the first issue on June 29th APR160120 FOC June 6**

Written by: Van Jensen

Art by: Pete Woods

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

I’ll admit this right away, I was not a big fan of Van Jensen’s run on The Flash. When I came across Cyrptocracy, I didn’t have much faith in this book and my expectations were low. Now that I’m done reading it, I apologize for ever doubting this book. I’m in love with it. I went into this book not really knowing much about it. The “Blend of The X-Files and Marvel’s A.I.M.” marketing hook caught my attention, but honestly I haven’t watched or read any of those before. Let me give a better and a more tantalizing idea of what this book is about, it’s a blend of Game of Thrones and Men in Black. That probably sounds like the most ridiculous sentence ever, but it perfectly encapsulates this book. It’s batshit insane, it’s hilarious, it’s sad, it’s brutal, it’s sci-fi, it’s fantasy and I guess what I’m really trying to say is: it’s the book I always wanted, but never knew how badly I wanted it.

If Game of Thrones + Men in Black wasn’t enough to give you an idea of what this book is about, here’s a quick premise. The world as we know it is secretly controlled by Illuminati type families, each named after a different planet in the solar system (at least that’s the naming structure for the families mentioned so far) and each controlling a different part of our planet. These highly advanced families secretly control everything that happens in our world. As the book starts we are thrust into their world and see their actions first hand. If that all sounds pretty tame, this book also features a talking bear, memory altering aliens, a Green Lantern reference, a teleporting old man, crazy conservatives and a whole lot more.

Despite the large amount of characters and plot this first issue covers, it never feels rushed or exposition filled. A large cast is introduced, and something like that is easy to screw up in a first issue. Character interactions are done very well and most dialogue flows smoothly. I have a pretty good idea of what these characters are like and what makes each of them unique and interesting. I want to see more of the hilarious Jason the talking bear. I want to see Bela kick some more butt (or balls). I like watching Grahame going around and changing the course of history. I care about their personal character arcs and I’m curious as to what happens to them.

For a first issue to a new series to be successful it needs to give us characters we can care about, which this issue does in spades, but it also needs to give us a plot that we can get invested in, which this issue also does in spades. There’s a lot of interesting things being set up here. We have sibling rivalry, war brewing between families, a conspiracy theorist trying to get to the bottom of everything, and of course a greater threat that puts them all in danger.

A book like this can easily fail because of the art. A crazy and vivid world needs an artist that can accurately portray it without losing the human and relatable side of it all. Thankfully the art here is amazing. There are some really cool designs and everything looks the right amount of cartoony. There are some hilarious panels, like one of a classic “grey” alien drinking Mountain Dew and eating Doritos, which brings a whole lot of charm to this book.

Cryptocracy #1 is not a perfect book. There are some moments that are confusing, some art that looks a little off, some dialogue that comes off as forced, but that doesn’t matter because overall this is the perfect way to start up a series. It sets up likable main characters, dislikeable villains and a world so crazy, that you can’t help but fall in love with it. Cryptocracy does not play it safe, it takes risks and it succeeds.

About the Author

Adeem Khan