In a world where superheros are tech savvy billionaires, other worldly gods, mutants or science experiments gone wrong (or right?), meet a young man with the power to see 5 seconds into the future every time he has to make a decision…
Well the answer is no and you can be forgiven for thinking that it seems a bit underwhelming but it’s REALLY REALLY not. What we have here is a gift from author Stephen Bok of a completely novel concept in a unique format without any standard comic book tropes or cliches in sight. No witty one liners from narcissistic teenagers with a bad ass attitude or villains with grand designs launching us into an ultimate game of cat and mouse with the planet at stake… Instead, we have a couple of conscientious young adults in Jake and Ellie stumble into peculiarity with understandable uncertainty regarding the potential repercussions of using this new ability. Following that, we meet our antagonist Lucas, who is trapped in a bad situation that clocks what’s going on and sees nothing but opportunity for him to take advantage of so that he can turn it all around.
And here’s the rub: if we all had the power of ‘5 Seconds’, likely each and every one of us would at least consider or maybe even be tempted to take advantage of the situation as Lucas wants to… but more on that later.
The end result: a light hearted and compelling breath of fresh air that draws the reader in with ever evolving stakes that challenges us to ask:
- Are gifts only ever to be used for good?
- Can you take advantage if you’re not hurting anyone?
- What are there repercussions from stopping an accident before it happens?
The phenomenon that occurs within these pages is effectively articulated with clever illustrations, good use of colours and only a touch of exposition. Cue cards are utilised to demonstrate what events look like when they are happening in the past, the present or could be happening in the future… and flow chart style animation is demonstrates the different directions that particular choices can branch off to. This delightfully creative method to simplify the action is clear, very easy to follow and really looks more impressive than it reads here. Full credit to the artistic team for demonstrating their skill in utilising illustrations to really tell the story.
In fact, P. R. Dedelis, Eric Gravel and Cheun deserve a standing ovation all the way round because this book is a masterpiece in presentation. The art is both understated and elegant in the way it captures expression. The scenery is consistent with the mood of the on panel action and the colouring emphasises the tone. The pages aren’t too crowded leading to action that is easy to follow and emotions that flows off the page. It really is an opera for the eyes that earns full marks to the collaborative efforts of the happy trio mentioned above.
The story however, is the major attraction here. Once we establish the power that is 5 seconds, our protagonists wrestle with the dilemma of altruism vs the way more appealing and fun notion of self-gain. Naturally a trip to the casino is in order to hone this new skill and make a bit of profit on the side. Conscience tugs on both Jake and Elli’s heartstrings as they quickly realise that no good will come from the path of easy, ill-gotten gains and they donate the winnings away. The damage however is already done as Lucas (and hilariously, Joe Pesci may also be there) is already enacting a plan to get everything he ever wanted with the underlying subtext here that no amount of money will ever be enough. What follows next is an inspired piece of ingenuity that wraps up the action and addresses all the major character points whilst all the while highlighting the enviable creativity of the author. It really is a masterstroke.
So when all is said and done, we have an incredibly fun and novel concept that transforms into a furious page turning colourful adventure that involves two likable romantics working through an escalating ethical quandary. This is a fresh and witty story that grips the reader from beginning to end with clever plot twists and colourful art, that leaves them wondering what’s next at every turn. Don’t bother trying to guess… you haven’t got a chance.
All in all it was an utter delight to watch the action and story unfold from panel to panel. 5 Seconds leaves the reader feeling excited and full of wonder as to where it’s all going for these characters as well as to the how and why of these powers. For 5 Seconds, there are five stars here.
Check it out.
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