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‘Primordial’ GN (review)

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Published by Image Comics


Have I ever told you how much I hate to “eat crow,” as the saying goes?

Well, I do not believe there is anyone that enjoys being wrong about anything. One of the most significant flaws in current culture is the inability of anyone ever to admit they are nagging. Well, not necessarily wrong, but accepting the other person’s idea might be correct according to their perspective.

Well, I am here to tell you that even I can be wrong, and I will have to feast upon some crow.

Not too long ago, I praised Jeff Lemire as the one creator in the industry that never has and will never disappoint me. I wish I had read Primordial before making that bold assertation.

I have the sneaky suspicion that my boss over here gave me this book to test if I was a blind fanboy of Lemire. If that is the case, I have the answer for you, boss, “I am not.”

On its face, Primordial has all the elements I would typically be a sucker for, a hero attempting to overcome racial discrimination, alternative history, a possible romance, and espionage.

Yet, for many reasons, the book fell flat.

Set in alternate 1961, the book follows Donald Pembrook, an African American scientist from MIT, as he attempts to make sense of why both the Russians and the Americans abruptly ended their space programs. Pembrook soon uncovers evidence that there is a greater conspiracy at play, but when he goes to his bosses at NASA, he is removed from the project. Soon after, a Russian scientist reaches out to him, and Pembrook discovers that he has indeed stumbled on a conspiracy that could change the course of human history forever.

Lemire has all the elements of a good story, but somewhere in the mix, they never coalesce into anything worth any substance.

Lemire created an entire world where history played out utterly differently. Yet, Lemire never touches on that world and instead keeps his story focused on a group of animals that have gained intellect and are desperately seeking their way back to Earth. With a name like Primordial, I was expecting a big mind-bending adventure. Instead, the stakes of this book are minimal, and ultimately Lemire has created a comic book similar to the themes of the 1972 film Snoopy Come Home yet still lacks the poignancy and heartbreak of that masterpiece.

Sorrentino’s artwork is fitting as he juxtaposes the gloomy alternative Cold War Earth and the colorful adventures of the animals lost in space. However, as the story moves along, Sorrentino’s artwork becomes more trippy, making the story seem like it would lead to something great. However, that greatness never coalesces.

This story is nothing more than a lost dog trying to find its way home.

I usually love these two creators together. However, this story never came together for me in a meaningful way; despite being well written, it seems like Lemire had the start of an excellent idea but did not have the bones to make it meaningful.

Final score: 2 out of 5 stars.


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