To create a successful one-shot, you need to know how much story can fit in a limited page count. You can pack a cosmic superhero story into 48 pages, but it’s difficult to give that a satisfying narrative arc with fully realized characters. This is the case with The Quiet Kind (Dark Horse), a one-shot introducing a new group of heroes given extraordinary abilities by a trickster god plotting to end the universe. Written by Chuck Brown with art by Jeremy Treece, Kelly Williams, and letterer Adam Pruett, The Quiet Kind has a lot of ambition but lacks focus, throwing out a flurry of ideas that don’t get fully developed.
Brown co-writes the excellent Image series Bitter Root, which explores the racism of the early 20th century through a fantasy horror story centered on a family of monster hunters. He continues to look at how marginalized people rise against monstrous oppressors in The Quiet Kind, but the scripting lacks the finesse of Brown’s other title, which doesn’t have the same page-count restraints. When it comes to superhero origin stories, The Quiet Kind is basically Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers with a mythological spin: A fox god shares sparks of the “Flame Of Reality” with young people across the Earth, and watches as they bring chaos to the planet. It’s a basic setup that requires significant attention to characterization in order to gain extra dimension, but the rushed pace keeps the team from zeroing in on what makes this ensemble endearing.
There are a lot of missing pieces that might have connected readers with the characters, and the lead protagonist is defined by his victimization at the hands of bigoted bullies. He immediately uses his new superpowers to exact his revenge, and then gets sucked into a world-threatening conflict. The execution is humorless, and while the story focuses on young people who have been tossed aside by the world, it still needs to find some element of joy to get the reader invested in the heroes’ success.
Treece has an angular, exaggerated style akin to artists like Humberto Ramos and Jorge Corona, which gives the characters big expressions and brings plenty of energy to action sequences. But clarity is the issue here, as Treece’s moment-to-moment storytelling can be hard to follow. Pruett’s sound effects often describe actions, which feels like a way to work around muddy visuals. Brown significantly slows down for the backup story, a dark fable that sets the stage for the main plot by revealing a previous instance of the fox god’s clever killer instinct. Kelly Williams’ painted artwork brings ethereal beauty to this short tale, and the script lets the visuals carry the storytelling. This backup reveals the greater potential of this story, which ultimately stumbles by trying to do too much.