Love comics but think there aren’t enough hippy-ish stories about the power of music? Fear not, for Paul Jenkins’ Tomorrowland is here! Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike are DJs and founders of the Tomorrowland music festival held in Belgium but just before this year’s show they’ve both been having weird dreams about volcanoes and weird light. Little do they know that together they are the two most important people in the battle between Creation and Destruction – and both sides have chosen the Tomorrowland music festival as the site of their final battle!
On paper, it must’ve seemed like a good idea – creation vs. destruction, a kind of mainstream-ish comic about abstract concepts about artistry and negativity – but I felt the execution was a bit lacking. Ironically for a comic all about the importance of creation, there’s very little creativity going on in this book, specifically with regards the characters.
Dmitri and Mike are both nondescript twenty-somethings who wear backwards baseball caps, say “bro” far too much and say things like “Bro, I need coffee” in the morning. They are… dull. They feel like background characters except they’re the main characters in this comic! Maybe Jenkins was going for a Bill and Ted pairing but didn’t quite pull it off – they’re neither wacky or charming enough and come off instead as bland.
The forces of Creation and Destruction aren’t much better – if you ask most people who you think should represent Creation, most people would pick famous artists like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde, both legendary creators of art, and that’s exactly who represent Creation in this comic. For some reason, fantasy figures like centaurs, fairies, and unicorns also represent Creation. For Destruction, most people would pick demonic monsters, just because destruction in itself is a negative thing and what’s more negative than demonic monsters? And that’s exactly who represents the forces of Destruction in this book. They’re just not very imaginative character design choices by either Jenkins or the artists.
The artist collective known as Stellar Labs (Alti Firmansyah and Beny Maulana) illustrate this book and their style fits Jenkins’ story. It’s polished and competent but lacks style and looks like every other comic out there. The character designs, the settings, are all forgettable, though the comic is bright and colourful to match its positive message of creation over destruction. I did wonder at the stage design of Tomorrowland – a dance music festival where the stage is designed to look like a shelf of books? Hmm… nope! Doesn’t resemble what dance festivals the world over look like. And no (intentional) light show at a dance fest?
First issues are tough to get right, especially ones with high concepts like this comic so I can forgive Jenkins for not fully explaining the setup (why are these monsters against creation – what does creation do to them? what purpose does invading Earth serve to them?). And it’s hard to dislike the message to create rather than destroy – who can’t get behind that? Not I. But I thought that despite this, Tomorrowland is a comic that doesn’t make much of an impression thanks to the rather boring cast. It’s essentially a high concept story with low concept characters.
Fantasy fans might get more out of this than general comics readers, but I this definitely isn’t Jenkins’ best work. It’s somewhere between the awful Wolverine: Origin and the mediocre New 52 Dark Knight series he did with David Finch – Tomorrowland is simply ok, not great.
Tomorrowland #1 by Paul Jenkins and Stellar Labs is out now
This article was first posted on July 24, 2013