Brian Michael Bendis’ Jinxworld imprint continues under its new home at Dark Horse with Joy Operations alongside artist Stephen Byrne. Fifty-five years from now. Joy is an EN·VOI. A special agent of one of the JONANDO TRUST. Trusts are corporate-owned cities that are the centrepiece of modern society. She rights wrongs for the trust. She is excellent. Perfection. Hard on herself. Driven. Almost legendary in some parts. Until one day a voice pops in her head trying to get her to betray everything she has ever believed.
With a track record like Brian Michael Bendis, you can confidently know you will be in safe hands. He has obviously made a significant impact in the superhero genre in the last 20 plus years across both Marvel and DC. But he has continued to dabble in other genres in that time through his creator owned endeavours which have led to some great reads. Besides superheroes, he does usually favour the crime/noir side of things, so it’s exciting to see him going to the sci-fi realm.
Bendis does a terrific job of world building with the future setting. He raises frightening possibilities as the wealthy are given free rein to shape civilisation as they see fit whilst creating their own favourable narrative that could drive the world to ruin. But his main strength has always been character work and Joy Operations is no exception. Joy is quite the contrast from Bendis’ usual protagonists. For one thing she is middle aged as opposed to the younger characters from his most popular works which is something fresh to work with. At a character level, her arc – as she goes from being in complete control of her life to being plagued by doubts and finding a voice that is dismantling all that she stood for – is very engaging.
On the art side, Stephen Byrne is also well a perfect fit. Anyone who has read his DC work (particularly the Justice League/Power Rangers crossover) knows how bright and exciting his art is, and he does a terrific job of bringing this future world to life. There is also some great use of colouring with the city and its residents being rather muted, with blue and greys being highly prevalent. This nicely clashes with the brightly coloured threats that Joy has to deal with.
Joy Operations is a strong sci-fi comic that touches in on some themes that will resonate with many readers. Fans of the genre will find plenty to enjoy, whilst those who have followed Bendis’ work for a long time will enjoy seeing him playing with a different style of story.
Joy Operations is out 29 September from Dark Horse (9781506729466, p/b, £22.99)
Want regular updates and weekly reviews on the latest in graphic novels and manga? Follow us on Twitter @turnaroundcomix.