Thursday, April 10, 2008

ClanDestine Classic

After the success of Captain Britain, Alan Davis was pretty much given free space to do whatever he wanted, as long as it was a team book. So he racked his brain and came up with a roster that represented his appreciation of family, and that's ClanDestine, which isn't really a team book in the normal sense of the idea, nor is it even a superhero book. It's a book about a family with superpowers.

I picked up the hardcover collecting issues 1 through 8 of Davis' ClanDestine, including the X-Men/ClanDestine mini-series that tied up a couple loose ends from the first run. Rightfully uncollected, there's also issues 9 through 12 of the series, which was not done with Davis, and which Davis retconned away as a dream in the aforementioned mini-series.

Of course, Davis' pencils are terrific. That's not up for debate. What I was surprised by was how excellent the writing was on the series. Not only was ClanDestine a fairly unique spin on the supergroup, but it was also a fairly intelligent comment on superheroics in the Marvel Universe. The social commentary, plus the excellent organic family chemistry made me totally love this.

Adam Destine has received the gift of immortality from his djinn lover, and his children, who are also fairly longlasting, have received superpowers as a result of the coupling. Of all the siblings that make up the Clan Destine, Rory and Pandora are the only twins, and their powers have developed a lot earlier than the other siblings' powers. Inspired by costumed heroes, Rory and Pandora put on stupid tights and go out and fight crime, which threatens the anonymity of the entire family.

Each of the main characters in the family are clearly identified and fleshed out very quickly. Davis takes about two issues to introduce everybody and when he has, he cleverly uses dialogue to draw them all out. I was very impressed by the skill that Davis shows in making these characters come alive.

And, he keeps it moving very quickly with a plot that slowly reveals itself, rather than all at once. Similar to the slow unfurling of
The Nail, Davis lets only pieces of the puzzle be shown. It's quite skillful.

The only bad thing about this book is that it was canceled. I would have loved to have seen Davis do more with this, including revealing the fates of some of the siblings mentioned in passing, as well as the mysterious murder of Vincent, the "evil" brother. Luckily, Davis is hard at work on a 5 issue volume 2 of ClanDestine, so look for a review of that later.

I recommend this highly to fans of X-Men or Avengers or JLA. This is a team book that shines with wit, character, warmth, intelligence and damn good artwork. I love Alan Davis.

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