By Zack Quaintance — The opening pages of Paul Jenkins and Wesley St. Claire’s Beyonders #1 are not unlike having a conversation with someone who is really into historical conspiracy theories at a party or a bar: the information comes at you so fast that you can’t make much sense of it...all you know is that there’s something much much larger going on here, something that may or may not be worth going all in on.
In that sense, Beyonders #1 does a great job opening up a new comic, throwing out an intriguing hook that basically encapsulates what this story is about, one that will surely make clear to like-minded readers that they’re in for something worthwhile. For those who are maybe a little overwhelmed with the opening, the creative team does a great job of getting us right to our protagonist, who himself then makes clear that he finds this all a bit overwhelming as well. That he does it with some funny too is another enticing quality laid out early by Beyonders.
That’s all really great on a surface level. What I found more enticing about this book was the hints at bigger questions about conspiracy culture, about how it’s accelerated in odd regions due to the Internet and about how certain types of people are prone to use it as a distraction from more tangible and immediate things in the world around them. It’s all so relevant for this tough year of 2018, and Jenkins and St. Claire do a great job of conveying that without being heavy-handed.
Some of the scenes of Jacob’s real life, however, are just a little too on the nose and convenient, especially one where he’s called into his principal’s office so the man can give him a speech and also inform him he’s been denied...by every college he applied to. That convenience took me out of the story a little bit (just a little), but thankfully the book is never far off from lapsing back into its central concern: conspiracies.
Jenkins and St. Claire are experienced creators who know their craft stuff, and the book reads quickly. Everything here is well-polished and easy to digest. Whether or not is proves to be a lasting series, however, will likely depend on how well it continues to unpack the reasons online culture has accelerated belief in conspiracies.
Overall: There are a lot of surprises in this comic, as one is right to expect from a book about conspiracies, and they’re all well-done. In the end, I’d heartily recommend this comic to anyone who gets lost down conspiratorial rabbit holes on the Internet with any degree of regularity. 7.0/10
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