THE NORMALS #5
The engrossing story of a family trying to find their new place in the world releases the penultimate issue of it’s first story arc this week with THE NORMALS #5 from Aftershock Comics. Writer Adam Glass has really put the Normal family through the ringer over the last few issues of this story and that looks tame compared to what comes next. On the run, out of money, and out of their element the Normal’s have finally located the first automaton they intend to ‘set free’. The only problem is that she is already dead. The unwitting subject of a lover’s quarrel the young woman is activated by Jack only to learn that the love of her human life was murdered along side her. Deciding to die rather than live on without him she requests to be shut down and return to eternal sleep. While this moment brings Jack and his wife closer together their family is still in great danger. The noose is closing in all around them from threats both conspiratorial and random.
The further I get into this series the more clear it becomes that it is a title about family first and those close knit relationships and a science fiction story about artificial people second. For a seemingly standard suburban family we are slowly learning the Normal’s keep a lot of secrets from each other. At his point most are innocuous but the pressure on them is slowly building and while that pressure brings a few member closer together it can also heighten existing tensions. The writing from Glass is strong and the family dynamic he is weaving feels completely natural given their crazy situation. The multiple narrative threads are all working well together and this issue ends with a completely unforeseen series of events that leave me wondering how in the hell is he going to wrap up this arc in only one more issue.
The pencil work from Dennis Calero continues to be strong but the main complain I have had since the start still plagues THE NORMALS #5. There is just something about the way the faces are drawn that makes individual characters very hard to tell apart. Especially the mother and the daughter. There was an entire sequence that made no sense to me because I have the dialogue coming from the wrong character because I could not tell them apart. I know it is a small nitpick but it drew me out of the moment and it has been the only hiccup in the visual presentation. I think THE NORMALS has been incredibly strong since the beginning and it is one of the quieter, more personal titles to come out of Aftershock Comics. With the story arc closing on the next issue this is a great point for new readers to read the entire first arc in a sitting via the individual issues or the upcoming trade and then sign up for the continuing story with issue #7.