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‘Hype’ (review)

Last year, we talked to Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, Painkiller Jane, Marvel Knights) about his Kickstarter project, Hype. After the project reached it’s goal, I couldn’t wait to get the full story in my hands. The superhero sci-fi action graphic novel is available next Wednesday, January 24th.

Hype is the story of superhero Noah Haller and behavioral genetics scientist Amanda Marr. What is special about Noah, and the story, is that when his body is activated to perform an essential mission, he’s only given an hour a day to perform that task before needing to recharge and regenerate his cells.

He has heightened senses, strength and bravery as his strong suits but his social development makes adjusting to real human interaction a challenge. According to preview material, he has the body of a god, with the social mind of a child.

Amanda is tasked with adjusting Noah to the subtlety of human nature, and she learns from him as well. What she didn’t expect from this forced government assignment was to end up having feelings for Hype and how appropriate acting on those nurturing feelings might be. Noah is crafted to be a near-perfect specimen, but his immaturity and sheltered existence could get in the way of ever acting normal with Amanda.

Palmiotti prides himself on the interactions between his characters and that you are able to sympathize and connect with them on a real level. That is no more true than in Hype. Part of this reads like a television show, as Amanda is assigned to Noah and you learn about her qualifications and how only she would be able to help him along.

Noah is a highly trained, intelligent and swift agent, ready to take on any task the government needs when not in his 23-hour cryostasis. He’s the first in the program to have survived out of his pod that can function for more than 30 minutes. The time thing is critical to his learning but also to his function as a weapon or first responder. Amanda is here to teach him about his feelings. There are similarities to Noah and an automaton because of his super intelligence, but what separates him is the fact that he is human and can use instinct. Noah’s first interactions with Amanda border on inappropriate, and a trip to a city park was too much input.

The question of time, and what one does with it, is really at the center of this story. What if you could do amazing things but only for an hour a day? What if you were to learn all that is to know about the opposite sex, politics, the concept of money if you only had an hour a day to learn…and that hour was spent super-heroing.

Hopefully there will be more to read from the Hype universe, because it has strayed from the tropes of heroes based on ‘What if Superman was a bad guy?… Or ‘What if you could clone a person but the clone was a completely a blank slate’?

Granted, there is a bit of the latter in this story, but the temporal component makes for a truly compelling story. As Noah and Amanda bond, you see how critical their relationship can be if they both need to stand up to a bigger threat.

I know that if I were only able to be awake and functioning for one hour a day, I would make the most of it! Although, truth be told, I might spend that time reading great comics and then right back to bed.

HYPE arrives in stores January 24, 2017 from Adaptive Books

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