When it comes to picking up what I read, I usually get a general idea what I’m reading before hand. When it comes to Nowhere Men, there is very little on it in terms of general story. The Amazon description is pretty much the same in most summaries for the series, added that I’m not familiar with the writer Eric Stephenson (though I do know he is publisher of Image comics), and some critical acclaim from various sites for the series, I was interested but going into this series blind. So aside from the rebellious cover, the “Science is the new rock ‘n’ roll!” slogan, and the references to The Beatles, Nowhere Men is a vastly dense and character driven, semi-mystery series…and it has science.
NOWHERE MEN collects issues #1 – 6. Sometime in the 1960’s, four young men named Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange, and Thomas Walker were the smartest men on the known planet and came together to form the research group known as World Corp., which ushered in a new age of technological advancement and recognition that has even lasted into modern times. But over the years, things have changed. Thomas Walker has disappeared from public view to the point of him being legally declared dead, Simon Grimshaw has started his own company; Dade Ellis has gone into sabbatical, and Emerson Strange has become the sole figurehead of World Corp., and he’s getting old. And within World Corp., Emerson’s greatest and last projects has fallen into disarray as the people who are working on said project have contracted an unknown virus and are under quarantine until further notice. What happened during those long years no one knows about? Where did things started going wrong? What’s become of the four founding members of World Corp.? What does this secret project of people with the virus have to do with World Corp.? And what is this mysterious virus?
All those questions will come to mind when you start reading Nowhere Men. And believe me, it can and will get confusing throughout the first half of the book, but for good reason. This is a very condensed and character building series with the actual plot moving purposely slow. The book has two main themes: the first is the research team with the virus, seeing them slowly developing their “plagues” and we start liking these characters over time. The other theme, and one that takes up most of the book, is the original four World Corp. founders and their in-depth group insights. The group jumps around from flashbacks of when the four men started out the company, a middle time period that’s sometime in the 1970s/80s, and modern times. We get to see the inner workings of each member to which, makes for a thought provoking look at these men. Comparing the group to the Beatles themselves, not only in looks and some attitudes, but writer Eric Stephenson writes numerous amounts of details of the group through various fake publications, books, letters, marketing, advertisements, and interviews to make the characters and information look and feel real; almost as if the characters do exist. Heck, there’s even a reader’s poll of inventors that include “10 creepiest people of the year” award categories. All these little pieces of details make Nowhere Men feel incredibly rich and further the characters and world, something so familiar to Alan Moore’s own Watchmen. Everything about this book is meant to be taken slowly and take in everything. You won’t appreciate it until you do that.
And just when you get halfway through the book where you don’t know the connections as to why things are happening with the two groups and the time jumps, you’ll start connecting the dots slowly and slowly until the very end where everything (mostly) makes sense and the two groups start converging for a decent payoff. I felt like the first half of the book was intriguing but left little to no connection if the series was going anywhere, so after I got to the halfway point and to the very end, my brain finally took it all in and I floored at the effect. It will make you go smack your head and laugh like you finally figured out a question you couldn’t answer for weeks. That’s how I felt about Nowhere Men and if you get that same feeling, you’ll want to re-read it again to which you’ll understand it way better.
Art duties are handled by Nate Bellegarde who accomplishes the mood of characters expressions. Most of the beauty lies in the eyes and actions of the characters, though Bellegarde does some exceptional splash pages for detail and effect. Even further credit goes to Bellegarde and colorist Jordie Bellaire on the fake memorabilia of advertisements, interviews, written work, and letters that are little details you do not find too often. Much praise is given.
Is there is a problem, it’s the obvious. This is a very, very condensed and somewhat confusing book. There is a huge amount of reading the memorabilia pieces that might overload some people, as well as the first half of the book informing very little to what and why things are happening. Some readers might feeling their slogging through nothing but narration work for a plot (yes, there is a plot) that could have been summed up in one to three issues. It’s a very wordy and character driven series with extremely little action or humor (though there is some still there). And although the book is rated Teen Plus, the book is for mature readers. There is some violence and the F-word is said numerous times.
So NOWHERE MEN VOL.1 is something very different than most comics out there. It's a incredibly dense character piece on 4 geniuses and an infected crew, a look at publicity and commercialism (for science!), great art, and just is one long thought producing series that should be taken in slowly, a much akin to Watchmen. But this is a very dense read that might bore and confuse many. It's a tough series to judge as it is not for everyone, but It caught me by surprise, seeing as I was somewhat bored at the beginning myself, then everything came together near the end, I liked what I read. If you are into these types of subjects away from the explosions and typical superhero archtypes, then give Nowhere Men a read. Can't go wrong with a $10 book.