This zero issue of Brain Boy is the perfect introduction to Dark Horse’s new telepathic hero, Matt Price, who doesn’t like to be called Brain Boy. Or if you already read the three-issue miniseries, this gives you the chance to see just how writer Fred Van Lente kicked off his Brain Boy reimagining, as the character was originally created in the sixties. Compiled from Dark Horse Presents #23-25, which appeared months before the Psy vs. Psy miniseries, and drawn by Freddie Williams II, known best for his work on DC Comic’s Robin and Flash, this is still the Matt Price we know and love, but he hasn’t been assisting the United States Secret Service for very long. That only becomes apparent when his current mission runs afoul of assassins, and he has to call his employer, Albright Industries, for help, which is a spectacular and clever scene, like many of the scenes in this issue.
Van Lente once again brings humor, intensity, and high stakes all out to play at the same time, and the results are fantastic. We get to see a bit of world-building here, as everyone calls Matt Price “Brain Boy,” and Price goes more in-depth on what it is like to be a telepath, also known as a Reader. Willams II’s artwork is very different and darker than R.B. Silva’s bold outlines and wide eyes from the miniseries, but that is not a bad thing, and Williams II’s fierce art fits nicely with the fast-paced, violent tone of this story. I especially enjoy the way he and Van Lente create an entire atmosphere of armed protection that goes beyond Price’s powers, because that makes the scenario all the more deadly when trouble hits. There are two small moments involving a maid that are remarkable in the way that Van Lente is able to make us care about and remember even minor characters, and that also brings a strong resonance to Price and his responsibility and choices.
The story is engaging and interesting, and it is exciting to see Price stretching his powers in this early mission, even if he is less sure of himself and what he’s doing. It creates an arresting dynamic in Price’s mind, as he tries to save the day and also himself and those around him, and it is obvious he is in over his head, which is saying something for a telepath. And, Van Lente gives us more clues into the mysterious Albright Industries, which are intriguing to say the least and perfectly blend with the mysteries that were developed in the miniseries. Brain Boy is a series I am thoroughly enjoying, where the storytelling and art always deliver with equal parts action and humor, and this issue zero is no exception. It’s fast, smart, and clever, just like Matt Price, no matter if he’s got the situation under control, running for his life, or levitating in the air. This is the world of Matt Price, and it’s definitely not all in his mind.