The Amazing Powers Of Entitlement And Misanthropy: Should You Be Reading ‘They’re Not Like Us’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
A troubled young woman discovers that the mental problems she's been struggling with all her life are actually a form of telepathy, and that there are others with gifts similar to hers. The setup is very familiar, but in They're Not Like Us, our hero Syd discovers that the group that takes her in is a little different: they're entitled, narcissistic jerks.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
An exploration of the early twenty-first century generation gap; a cynical re-jiggering of The X-Men starring generation entitled. Following a failed suicide attempt, the telepathic Syd is taken in by a group of similarly-gifted youths led by the misanthropic The Voice. Cloistered in a San Francisco Victorian and hiding their existence from the world at large, they only venture out to beat people up, steal whatever they want, and kill their own parents. Is Syd willing to compromise her morals to finally be somewhere she belongs?
WHO’S IT BY?
An absolute all-star team of some of the most-talented creators working today. They're Not Like Us is written by Eric Stephenson, creative architect of Image Comics' central imprint, and scribe of the brilliant and (hopefully) soon-to-return Nowhere Men; lettered and designed by Fonografiks, who has given unique visual identities to books like Saga, Nowhere Men, and Trees; illustrated by Simon Gane, best known for his work on Vertigo's Vinyl Underground with Si Spurrier, but having evolved a more elegant touch to his lines since then; and colored, it almost goes without saying, by the near-ubiquitous Jordie Bellaire, who has added perfect finishing touches to pretty much every comic you love.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Fittingly enough, They're Not Like Us is completely unlike anything else. Although it treads some of the same ground as the 90s Wildstorm comics of Warren Ellis, and echoes Grant Morrison's early run on New X-Men, They're Not Like Us does so without a backdrop of superhero continuity hindering its exploration of entitlement, narcissism, and trauma with a main cast that's almost entirely unlikeable.
As an examination of the generation gap, They're Not Like Us is immensely effective, hitting all the pressure points sure to agitate anyone over 35. The Voice and his cohorts are easy to hate. They roll innocents who just happen to wander through their neighborhood; they're elitist and consider the rest of the population sheep; they're rich, gifted, and beautiful, and still they treat the world as if it owes them something. Both Syd and the reader are asked to consider the possibility that it might.
Just as every generation is a result of their parents, The Voice and his cohorts have all been punished, isolated, and abandoned because of their gifts; traumatized by the people who were supposed to love them unconditionally. Does that justify their behavior? In other words: how can you blame anyone born after 1990 for being self-involved and elitist when they're just the products of the world created for them?
For a book heavy on the schism between generations and questions of relative morals, They're Not Like Us is remarkably visually compelling. Even though about 90% of the book takes place inside one house in San Francisco, Gane's inventive layouts, stylized figures, and Victorian-like line-work give this conversation-heavy and somewhat claustrophobic book a liveliness that makes it as fun to look at as any action-packed superhero book.
Finished by Bellaire's subtle and expressive tone palette, and given the adrenaline injection of Fonografiks's design sense, They're Not Like Us is scintillating and opulent.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Young people, to see just how amazing they really, truly are, and old people, to be reminded that they're no longer relevant and created a generation of monsters.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
In advance of the eighth issue hitting stands this Wednesday, get caught up with the help Black Holes For The Young, which collects the first six. It's available both digitally and via the real world, and well worth your time.