Foundation #1

Written by John Rozum
Art by Chee
24 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

Most people, if asked what they’d do with knowledge of the future, answer along the lines of, “Win the lottery.” Once you get past the most materialistic urges, though, the bigger question becomes what would people do if they could get brief snatches of information about the years to come? John Rozum’s new series The Foundation takes that tactic with a particularly well-known figure when it comes to future predictions. The end result, though, seems a little too predictable at first.

The Foundation has a team that is busy deciphering the prophecies of the infamous Nostradamus, who claimed to have seen the future. Valentine is an operative for the Federation, but he doesn’t figure out the prophecies. Rather, he’s the one sent to make sure that they happen according to schedule. But how long can he turn a blind eye to other people’s fates at the expensive of a single life to be saved?

Rozum takes a slightly different tactic than I’d have expected to kick off The Foundation. Rather than keep the punchline to the situation a mystery—a single person being saved from a doomed flight preparing to board—Rozum states everything up front almost immediately. The drive of the issue isn’t what’s going on, but rather, how will our protagonist be able to respond to it? It’s an interesting ethical dilemma, saving one person that you’re told has to life, but being forced to abandon everyone else. Valentine’s indecision is a good plot point, and you can tell it’s that turmoil that will continue to drive the rest of the mini-series. The problem is, it’s a half-issue set-up that’s stretched into an entire issue. Rozum delays the action too long, hitting the same emotional beats over and over again as Valentine takes his passenger captive. By the time the plane takes off, you’re almost relieved that the disaster will happen, just so the comic can finally move on. It’s frustrating, because the basic concept is a good one, and Rozum seems ready to explore it to its full potential. It just goes on too long in this single situation; some of the time could have just as easily been spent examining the rest of the Foundation, or even setting up Valentine’s next mission. Instead, one feels like everything is dragging to fill up an entire issue instead of because it was the space needed.

Chee’s art in The Foundation is pleasant, if not extraordinary. He has a nice blocky, solid style of drawing the story. His people all have a similar rugged, strong-jawed look about them; it’s a good general approach, although it does cause a bit of unintentional hilarity when a character changes one mask for another and at a glance it’s hard to tell what the difference is, save for an eye-patch. Chee is good at storytelling, though; he’s able to inject a nice bit of drama into the story thanks to good viewpoints in the panels, the occasional different angle to keep a multi-page scene of two people in a restroom more interesting. His art works especially well with the coloring from Malaka Studio—scenes like the plane finally taking off end up looking beautiful, a combination of those rough, blocky edges with a painted hue about them.

The Foundation #1 is a slightly promising, but also slightly problematic start to a five-issue mini-series. With any luck, future installments will be moving at a slightly faster clip now that the basic premise is out there. It’s a good idea, and Rozum definitely has ideas on where he wants to go with it. If future issues move at this same slightly-glacial speed, though, the series could be in trouble. Not being a psychic myself, the only advice I can offer is to wait and see. But until then, here’s hoping for a rosy future.

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