Power Cubed #1 Review

Written by: Aaron Lopresti

Art by: Aaron Lopresti

Publisher: Dark Horse

I’ll admit, when looking at the cover of Power Cubed I wasn’t expecting too much. It looked a little generic and the sort of book I’d easily skim past at my local comic store. That is, however, until I notices Aaron Lopresti’s name on the cover. I’ve seen his work at DC, which has always been highly pleasurable and had an old-school-yet-modern style to it and so decided to check this out. This ended up being one of the greatest decisions I’ve made this month as Power Cubed is a greatly refreshing, inventive and above all fun comic that contains a ton of imagination and good humor.

Our story begins with a visit to the evil lair of Dr. Cruel, a villain so over the top evil that he has to have his own evil castle, third person monologues, and did I mention he’s a Nazi? This instantly sets the tone for the book, one which doesn’t take itself too seriously while not going into “lol so random” territory in its humor. From here, we’re introduced to our main characters Kenny and his dad, who have had problems communicating since his mom died. The issue mostly centres on their relationship and showing different aspects of Kenny’s life as he reaches the cusp of adulthood, before receiving a mysterious birthday present from his dad that allows him to turn objects into whatever he imagines, which is where the plot really gets going.

When reading this book, there was a very vintage 80s feel to it. It almost seemed like the script of a lost 80s teen movie, but one that’s completely tongue-in-cheek and totally aware of what it is. It would be very easy to make the above plot into something overly angsty or to portray Kenny as a “troubled, rebellious youth” but Lorpesti never lowers himself to that. Kenny himself is a pleasant kid who has his own ambitions and friends, even though he and his dad struggle to communicate, they don’t hate or even really dislike each other. They just never really bonded and have now been thrown together by fate. It’s comprised of very real emotions of what happens when you lose a parent and gives the book a nicely honest emotional hook. Dr Cruel is who really steals the show however, he’s so over the top in every scene he’s in and so full of tropes that he’s an absolute joy to read. Even his assistant seems to regret working for him due to how much of a stereotype he is (which Dr. Cruel seems unaware of) which leads to some nice comedy that doesn’t go too far into parody in order to keep the story engaging for readers.

Really my only complaint with the story is how little forward momentum there is. Lopresti does a great job introducing the characters and tone of the book, but the actual plot is very simple right now, making it hard to talk about without just saying everything that happens in the book. It’s not something that’ll matter too much when you read the book, as the good humor and imaginative ideas will surely be enough to make you want to invest in more, but a little more plot development would’ve made for a more complete first issue as right now it’s a little hard to tell where we go from here with the story, with many plot elements being introduced out of nowhere in the tail end of the book.

What does sell the book however, is its absolutely gorgeous art which compliments the tone perfectly. As I said, Lopresti’s art is a style I really like; it’s upbeat, charming and full of personality and ends up being the perfect fit for this book. There’s a lot of creativity going on in the script, with a very optimistic and self-aware tone, so it’s absolutely crucial that it have a fitting art style otherwise the humor and tone would fall flat. Luckily, with Lopresti covering the art and scripting duties, he knows exactly the feel he’s going for, allowing this book to be a complete package of joy. It’s the sort of comic that reminds you how silly and fun comics can be when they don’t take themselves too seriously.  Lopresti’s imagination and charm simply bursts of the page, there’s an early on splash page of one of Kenny’s dreams, which if it’s an indication of the sort of things that will be featured in the book, sells me on this ride permanently. He crams so many intriguing designs and so much wonder onto a single page, and whether it be the bright, colorful dreams of a young man, or the dark, insidious lair of Dr. Cruel he fills the scenes with so much personality you’ll think you’re watching a Saturday morning cartoon.

Power Cubed is exactly the sort of comic I love, and one you shouldn’t pass by. It’s bursting at the seams with charm, humor and wondrous imagination. While it may be a little light on narrative, there’s enough in this issue to make you feel good and want to discover more about this universe.