Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Eric Stephenson
Art: Simon Gane
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Issue #1 of They’re Not Like Us introduced us to a young woman. After she attempted to take her own life she was hospitalised, but a dishevelled yet smartly dressed young man kidnapped (or rather, rescued) her to bring her to a house where a bunch of people with various kinds of powers live. Their leader, the person who extracted the girl from the hospital, calls himself The Voice and is a powerful telepath. And so is the woman at the centre of the story, who is rechristened Syd.
In her first days in this house for gifted youngsters she discovers that the members of the group tends to take out their shared, pent up rage on random members of the public, or “normals” as The Voice calls them. Although usually they focus on those who create some kind of a threat to them.
She is also told that she will need to murder her parents in order to be completely isolated from the world.
In this issue #3, we find Syd sparring with Gruff, a guy with whom she seems to also be creating a deeper bond; meanwhile, her parents complain with the hospital about her disappearance as a member of the group, the young and unpleasant Misery Kid, is spying on them. It is time for Syd to learn to control her powers.
The premise of this series can’t avoid suggesting to even the most casual of comic fans a link to The X-Men (and yes, I did use the adjective “gifted” on purpose, earlier on). The Voice is a particularly nasty version of Professor Xavier and Syd could be easily compared to a young Jane Grey, and the house in which they live has more than a passing resemblance to Professor X’s school; although the expression is never used, all the members of the group are indeed mutants. But the style of the story, the purpose of the group, the psychology of the characters and the relations between them (so, pretty much everything) couldn’t be further away from those characters.
Simon Gane’s art is extremely peculiar for a comic in this period and with this style. It oddly reminds me of the work of Guido Crepax and Milo Manara (but completely deprived of the more or less extravagantly sexual content that strongly characterises the work of both those artists), which in turn makes me link it to the 1970s. But somehow this is not at all out of place in They’re Not Like Us. Despite the fact that the series is firmly and undoubtedly set at the present time (they use iPhones and all), this kind of slightly old fashioned style seems to make perfect sense.
So: They’re Not Like Us has absolutely nothing to do with The X-Men (or any of the related series); the story is deep, complex and convincing; the art is peculiar in a good way. I’ll be waiting for the next issue.