"The Fly: Outbreak #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Brandon Seifert
Illustrated by Menton3
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 18th, 2015
Many of us seem to be afraid of becoming our parents. Martin Brundle has a very real reason to have this fear, as his father turned into a human / fly hybrid and that kind of stuff got into the genepool. Now Martin is continuing his father's research in an effort to find a cure for the mutated genes, living in fear of any possibility of passing these on. Sure, he turned out mostly normal, but what would happen if he were to reproduce? He might not have to worry about that much longer, as one of the experiments has just broken free.
There is a sterile quality to The Fly: Outbreak. It feels very clean with everything in its place, at least for the first half of the issue. This is mostly attributable to Menton3's artwork. Martin looks very prim and proper. He's your stereotypical scientist with tight lips and a concerned look in his eyes. Menton3's characters look almost real. That tidy feeling goes away when the breakout happens and everything hits the fan. Suddenly Martin's life is thrown into chaos as his greatest fears are manifesting right in front of him. It's bloody, gruesome, and ugly.
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Martin's anxiety is palpable through Outbreak. It's one thing to be afraid of monsters or the future, but he's afraid of himself and what he may become. He knows what happened to his father and he's trying desperately to prevent the same from happening to him. This tension has invaded every aspect of his being, including his love life. He must keep himself constantly in check. One slip up could cause a variety of unknown yet deadly consequences.
If the human beings appear lifelike, imagine what the monsters look like. Menton3 provides some gorgeous full-page and almost-full-page images showcasing the creature wreaking havoc through the lab. It's sleek and deadly and just barely resembles a human being. What's interesting is that the folks in the lab don't seem that phased by it, like they all knew it was there and there was a possibility that it would break out. That doesn't lessen the terror of the situation; it's just a little weird.
While the characters themselves often look very realistic, there are several elements in the artwork that look very bland and basic. This is mostly seen in the backgrounds and settings of the panels. There's one page where the creature is crawling along the ceiling and the hallway looks like something you'd find in a rudimentary architecture textbook. It's a stark contrast to the characters and the stellar quality of the monsters in the book. I get that to an extent because weird mutants are going to be a lot more fun to draw and look at than a boring office building.
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Writer Brandon Seifert captures that creepy feeling seen in David Cronenberg's 1986 film. There's something unsettling about it from page one. This comic basically ignores the 1989 sequel and sort of replaces it with a different version of Martin's tale. Between Seifert's story and Menton3's artwork, this is a bizarre rendition of the real world, like it's happening on some alternate timeline where this kind of stuff is completely normal.
The Fly: Outbreak has a creep factor of eleven. It makes me want to go back and re-watch the Cronenberg movie right away. It also makes me want to wash my hands a lot. Martin's fears emanate through these pages and become physical in the form of the mutant fly / man. This is taking the concept of "facing your fear" to a whole new level.