Bionicle #1

Rather large steam bath.

Bionicle #1: “The Rise Of The Toa Nuva”

Papercutz (2008)

originally published as 8 issues by DC Comics; 2000-2001)

WRITER: Greg Farshtey
ARTISTS: Carlos D’Anda, Richard Bennett, & Randy Elliott
COLORISTS: Alex Sinclair & Peter Pantazis
LETTERER: Ken Lopez
PRODUCTION: John McCarthy
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Jim Salicrup

Based on the LEGO toyline, Bionicle is the story of the island of Mata Nui, where a great evil has risen. From almost out of nowhere come the Toa, legendary protectors of the island, who must learn to work together to stop that which threatens the citizenry. In the first story they arrive and must seek the Masks Of Power in order to stop the evil force called Makuta. In the second, the Krana awaken and use bio-mechanical constructs called Bohrok to “retake” the island. In the end of that battle the Toa rise as the Toa Nuva.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? Then you look at the beautiful artwork and think you’re in for a fantastic story, as the people behind the toys crafted an interesting mythology if you’ve been to the website or seen the direct-to-video movies. However, that mythology just isn’t served well here at all, and it’s all in the writing. Farshtey seems to have a handle on the world, but not in how to present it. While the second story is better than the first, both suffer from looking like scenes were missing the Toa are never properly introduced to the audience, the narration changes with every issue (sometimes it’s one of the Toa, sometimes one of the other villagers, and once it was Makuta himself even though he doesn’t otherwise have a presence in the story). The result is a rushed an uninteresting story that you want to enjoy but ultimately can’t get into. And once all the Toa have the same mask in the second story you can’t tell them apart.

In fact how did they get those masks and when did they defeat Makuta? The second story at least gives us an ending and decisive, if not a bit rushed, victory. We never get to see how Makuta is defeated, or how the Toa obtained their version of the various Masks Of Power. It’s like there are more parts to the story that we aren’t shown but are important to understand what’s going on. Everything is just rushing to get in as many Bionicle concepts in as possible. Outside of the Toa and some of the Bohrok types you don’t even get a good look at the toys. Meet the villagers. There were characters in the toyline. Flesh them out, explain who they are, explores how wearing masks are part of their culture…SOMETHING to make us interested in these people and what the stakes are. Or at least give the toys a good showing, and it doesn’t even do that right.

The movies aren’t perfect and at least one of them suffers from the same pacing issue but they still have time to do more than these 8 issues collected here do. Unless you really need all merchandise from this line and not just the figures, there is no reason to track down this comic. It’s not terrible, but outside of the artwork there’s nothing here to see.

 

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

4 responses »

  1. […] at my other site I reviewed a Bionicle comic. It…was kind of lacking. However, it did convince me to review the one Bionicle figure I own. […]

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  2. Vrahno says:

    The comics were given away for free with the LEGO Magazine, which had tons of material dedicated to fleshing out the universe and advertising the toys. So that’s part of the reason why the presentation here is so bare-bones. The other part is that LEGO specifically ordered the writer not to conclude the first story, because they wanted to save the ending for a video game and a movie — both of which got canceled. Most of the other graphic novels in the series have the same problem.

    Kind of a shaky thing to re-release these comics as graphic novels, considering that.

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    • I don’t know what happened behind the scenes but it does seem odd in light of that. I kind of figured it was collected from somewhere but my lone Bionicle figure didn’t come with a comic and all I’ve seen are what was on the now defunct website and two of the movies. They had a great concept and they seemed to work hard on it.

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      • Vrahno says:

        Yeah. Some of the later comics fared better, though LEGO’s higher-ups and other factors always kept the writer’s hand tied. Like, one issue dedicated an entire page to introducing a seemingly important character, who never appeared after that because the story got too cluttered and the comics had a limited page-number. So this was hardly graphic novel-worthy material.

        When they started running out of re-printable older comics, the writer was given a free hand to create original material for the graphic novels, but sadly the series got canceled shortly afterwards due to low sales. He did manage to write four (I believe) such original comics, but the story choices weren’t all that superb, and they weren’t enough to keep the series running. A pity, because the new artist they hired was pretty good too.

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