They're Not Like Us #1 by Eric Stephenson and Simon Gane have taken a well-worn premise of young people with powers gathered together for their own protection and have made a mysterious and potentially sinister team of anti-heroes. It's not exactly clear what the man known as The Voice, as in the voice in their heads, has in store for new recruit Syd who tried to kill herself to stop the voices in her own head. It's easy to compare to that other band of youngsters with powers who live and train in a mansion but there's something more unnerving and dubious going on than we're lead to believe.
Stephenson establishes the story early on with The Voice helping Syd escape a hospital and directing her what to do and how she is destined for other things. It's all quite intriguing considering there's no wildly dramatic display of powers or flamboyant examples of what each member is capable of. The diverse cast of characters each get a panel with their name of description of their abilities. It's pretty matter-of-fact which creates an eerie underlying tone that makes you wonder are these kids the good guys or the villains. There is no clear-cut answer as The Voice insists on everyone leave everything behind to hide in the open as normal citizens with extraordinary powers.
There won't be any colorful costumes it seems which leaves a lot of questions as to what exactly is the purpose of the group. You'll be cursing Stephenson's name for not revealing more but that's why They're Not Like Us is so effective. There are no easy answers and that's why you'll come back for issue two to find them.
The art by Gane is reminiscent of Chris Burnham and Gabo. The fine detailed lines of facial expressions are superb as our his backgrounds from a busy hospital waiting room to a busy street corner. Jordie Bellaire is at her usual best providing lush colors when needed like in the foliage that surrounds the mansion to the muted tones inside the hospital. The layouts open big as the story begins only getting smaller with more panels as the finer details populate the pages.
Stephenson holds back a lot of information on purpose resisting the urge to show off the powers of these gifted kids in the first issue. It's a calculated risk that only draws the reader instead of off-putting. We want to know more. Who are these people? What is their purpose? Stephenson is probably laughing maniacally somewhere like a supervillain as he surely knows readers are thirsting for more details. He would be right. And that's why we'll be back for more.
They're Not Like Us #1 captures the imagination and sets the table for potentially great things. Highly recommended.