Boom! Studios has been wowing me lately, especially with one of their sapien-starred series, and it's by virtue of their track record that I decided to try out Protocol Orphans #1. Being a fan of the espionage genre in comics is suffering, since good 'black ops' comics are few and far between. So how does Protocol Orphans fare?
Pretty damn well.
Protocol Orphans #1 opens with a ticking time bomb that can't be defused, and it just gets better from there. Writer Michael Alan Nelson takes this tense opportunity to tell a story about a team of talented secret agents working for 'Dad' and "Grandparents', which in context sounds like happy family fun if not for the fact that these authority figures are actually ruthless caretakers who have trained these boys and girls since childhood in the art of hacking, bomb defusal and more.
The story operates at a fast clip, with characters racing against the clock to stop a bomb from destroying the Dodgers Stadium and everybody in it. Nelson just piles on the obstacles to nail-biting levels, stopping only to let some interesting tidbit or back story about the characters slip before pulling you back into the fray, and whatever you glean from these characters are juicy and interesting enough. There's certainly a Nikita-esque vibe in all of that back story, but it doesn't take away from what reads like a heart-thumping techno-thriller complete with suspenseful drum line.
It would have been a shame if a story this nice and taut didn't have art to match, but thankfully Protocol Orphans #1 looks really good, thanks to Mariano Navarro on art and Gabriel Cassata on colors. Navarro's style is easy on the eyes and he knows how to tell a story with action and verve, two qualities I look for in comics that this art team delivers.
Protocol Orphans #1 is off to an interesting start, and for a first issue that counts as a success. To paraphrase a popular line from Django Unchained: they had my curiosity, but now they have my attention. This gets a 4 out of 5.