By Troy Hickman & Various (Top Cow)
At first glance this little gem appears to a wry and savvy blending of Cheers, Friends, and Astro City, but a closer scrutiny reveals a rather unique viewpoint and talent working here. The premise is simple enough. In a universe awash with the standard clichés of superheroes ‘Common Grounds’ is the name of a chain of Coffee Shops that caters to the ultra-powered, the drastically mutated and the hyper-enhanced.
The six issues collected here feature a series of short vignettes that concentrate on the quiet moments, the down-time and the back-stories of the many varied denizens of the super-heroic and super-criminal communities.
Illustrated by a pantheon of the industry’s top talents such as Dan Jurgens, Al Vey, Michael Avon Oeming, Ethan Van Scriver, Chris Bachalo, Carlos Pacheco, George Perez, Angel Medina and Sam Kieth among others, it’s wonderfully easy on the eye, but the real pay-off is the scripting by Troy Hickman. Here is someone who can tell a fully realised story in a remarkably short amount of space and with a deft and incisive ear for dialogue.
That in itself would make this a treat, but just when you think you’ve got the measure of the thing Hickman pulls all the seemingly disparate little sit-com skits into one highly emotive and cohesive human drama that takes your breath away. Without realising, the reader has been putting together a jigsaw puzzle, unaware even that that is what they’ve been holding.
Marvellous, charming and enthralling: track a copy down and become a different kind of coffee addict.
© 2004 Top Cow Productions, Onc.