This is a bit of a throwback to the days of simpler comic book superheroes that I picked up recently in a bargain bin, mostly out of curiosity to see what John Byrne’s drawing. The story by Wayne Osbourne tells the tale of Tom Talbot, a kid about 10 to 12 years old who mysteriously acquires a superpower that lets him pretend up any effect he wants. Taking the superhero name FX, he and his pal Jack test out the powers against a renegade gorilla.
This story began as a commission Osborne wrote and paid Byrne to draw, with the result getting picked up by IDW. This very much falls into the fairly rigid interpretation held by Byrne and the fans at his forum of “what superhero comics should be” and undeniably does evoke the kinds of stories comics told back in the days when the only place to get them was the spinner rack and every issue was somebody’s first. Byrne’s art remains clear and strong, even as it reflects the somewhat more cartoony nature of his recent work.
At the same time, FX is too much of a throwback — too simple and simplistic – to make much of a mark in today’s market. Just because this kind of tale worked once, doesn’t mean it still resonates with the same force, especially as kids are increasingly exposed to more choices and more sophisticated fare than ever before. The result is little more than a nice bit of well-constructed nostalgia that has all the relevance of a “Leave it to Beaver” revival.