ADVANCE REVIEW: Mystery Girl #1

*This is an advance review of a comic that will launch on December 2nd* 

Written by: Paul Tobin

Art by: Alberto J. Alberquerque

Publisher: Dark Horse

Mystery Girl #1 is a debut issue that has an interesting central premise and strong potential that unfortunately doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. It takes a great idea and sort of meanders around for 24 pages unsure of what it wants to be. While it’s by no means a bad comic, there’s a lot of work needed in future issues to ensure readers will want to stick around for more.

As stated, the hook of this story is actually quite an interesting one. Trine Hampstead is a street detective in London with an ability that gives her an edge on cases, she knows absolutely everything. Well, almost everything. For some unknown reason she doesn’t know how she got her powers, choosing instead to use them to help those around her. It’s a pretty neat central gimmick, and Tobin displays a knack for coming up with quick and varied ways for her to use these powers in her neighbourhood. Unfortunately, he really doesn’t seem to know what to do with Trine, so quite a lot of this issue feels like simply wheel spinning until the thread of an overarching plot gets oddly tacked on towards the end. If you’ve ever seen the Rick and Morty sketch “quick mysteries”, the first half of this comic feels a lot like that.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing going on in this comic, there are quite a few interesting events and goings on, it’s just that none of them really gel together into a coherent story. The mysteries themselves are a fun way to introduce Trine’s powers, but just when you think they story’s about to get going, the comic precedes to pretty much repeat what we’ve just witnessed. After an very interesting two page interlude with an eccentric assassin (who is the highlight of the comic with his strange yet captivating ability to be both over the top and straightforwardly blunt) we cut straight back to Trine doing her usual detective work. It leads right into a discussion of her backstory, which is again nicely interesting and shows off the book’s fun and self-aware tone, but then we really don’t get much of anything until the very end. We see the set-up for a larger mystery to propel the series, which while interesting feels oddly tacked on and is barely explored, and are also introduced to a member of the supporting cast which adds up to pretty much nothing. It sucks to have to be so negative in regards to the story, as really there’s a lot while reading that I enjoyed. The script is fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously and displays a good amount of creativity, though when looking back in retrospective very little is actually accomplished and it seems a little unsure of where it wants to take the story.

What works much more consistently, however, is the art of Alberto Alburquerque. His art has a ton of character and personality to it, hitting that nice balance of looking fun and cartoonish while still being able to lend itself to a diverse number of tones as the script calls for it. It helps to capture the charm that the script is going for and ensures some overall thematic consistency despite the script’s sometimes seemingly schizophrenic nature. The characters that populate the world all look nicely realised and no two look exactly the same. Their characterisation is a little more flat, with no one really getting enough time to really make an impact. There are exceptions though, Trine herself comes off as a strong yet fun character, especially when it comes to the relationship with the detective who trained her. The aforementioned assassin too seems like he’ll be a ton of fun once he gets a bigger role in the series, though right now he’s another unfortunate causality of a script that is rife with potential, but falls a little flat in execution.

Again I’d like to stress, Mystery Girl #1 is not a bad comic, the ingredients are there to make a really great and unique comic that could be both fun and intriguing. Unfortunately the opening issue just doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be or how to effectively get readers on board. There’s a lot of potential being thrown around, but right now only some of it is sticking. If future issues manage to get a more coherent story and really get the plot going then this could be a great series. Right now though, it’s a little hard to recommend.