Noble Causes Vol. 4 #1-2

Written by Jay Faerber
Art by Fran Bueno
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

When Noble Causes first burst onto the scene, it was easy to see that creator Jay Faerber had used the soap opera as one of his inspirations for the series of mini-series. Now, after three mini-series (and several one-shots), Noble Causes is back as an ongoing series… and the series has definitely inherited both all of the strengths and weaknesses of its spiritual parent.

Everyone knows the Nobles. They’re the world’s most famous superhero family; Doc and Gaia Noble; their children Race, Rusty, Zephyr; plus Race’s spouse Liz, Rusty’s ex-wife Celeste, friend of the family Krennick, and illegitimate scion Frost. Of course, living your life in the spotlight isn’t always such a good thing. People are still trying to figure out who the father of Zephyr’s unborn child is. A murder that could have been anyone is immediately pointing to Krennick. And that’s just the start of things for the Nobles…

Faerber’s Noble Causes is certainly never content to just stick with one story. Even as half of the clan is investigating murders, others members are off in space checking out a threat to Earth. It’s a good move, letting everyone do something without being artificially shoehorned into the same plot. Faerber’s plotting is interesting because it’s hard to say where it’s all leading; is Faerber letting us dramatically know information that does indeed point towards the murderer? Or is it a red herring? There’s just enough evidence pointing both ways that Faerber’s letting his audience stay unsure. The only catch to all of this is that the pace feels awfully slow. Zephyr’s pregnancy seems to be crawling along, and at the end of the second issue it feels like we don’t know anything more than we did at the end of the first issue. It’s a fault that television soap operas can get away with because you get five installments a week, but with just one issue a month it feels a bit slower. (Although not as slow as, say, a newspaper soap opera strip, where it can take two weeks for a character to mail a letter. Sometimes longer.) I like where Faerber’s going, but it really needs to get there a little quicker.

This is the first I remember seeing Fran Bueno’s art, but it’s not a bad debut. It reminds me a bit of Michael Avon Oeming’s work on Powers, with stripped down and almost angular features on characters. When it comes to the women, Bueno’s got them down perfectly, from Liz’s worried look when she wakes up with Race missing, to Gaia’s exhausted look at the office. The men’s faces seem to need a bit more work—either that or everyone’s related to Jay Leno, based on the chins—although there’s already some improvement between the first two issues. Bueno’s also quite good at backgrounds, something that seems to be lacking with so many new artists; in fact, his buildings and cityscapes are some of the high points of the book. Hopefully some of the storytelling will improve with time as well; characters sometimes scoot across the scene so quickly while speaking it makes you wonder if all of the characters and not just Race have super-speed as an ability.

Noble Causes in its latest incarnation is off to a good if not spectacular start. Faerber’s plots are definitely interesting, and hopefully we’ll see them pick up a little speed in the next issue or two. Bueno’s art is good overall, and I do look forward to seeing him continue to grow and improve as an artist. Overall, I’m very happy to see Noble Causes back; hopefully it’ll get the audience it deserves. Two issues of the ongoing series are now out, and if you like those, there are collections of the precursor series available as well. Faerber’s made it so you don’t have to have read anything previous to understand the current Noble Causes series, but if you like the new series you’ll want to pick them up too.

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