Well, this is weird.
Dark Horse sent out a preview of The Answer #1 a few weeks back, but they just called it "Super Mysterious." I'm not sure if that's smart marketing or just confusing, but the lead character is a guy with an exclamation point face, so I was instantly on board. I'm a sucker for punctuation, I guess.
After reading this first issue from writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Mike Norton, who both share the story credit, there are more questions than answers – I suppose we are to assume that the black-clad Exclamation Point Man is known as The Answer, but that isn't stated anywhere. Instead, we open with him coaching a bespectacled woman to jump off a building while guys with guns shoot at her.
Flashback to four hours ago, and we find out that Devin here is a super genius librarian whose mother thinks she's wasting her life, but who has given her 'the hardest puzzle in the world' as a gift for her 30th birthday. A puzzle she solves in minutes, and it opens up to give her a website with a bunch more puzzles – and a soulpatch guy giving Magnolia-style speeches about The Apeiron being the chaos of innovation. However, apparently Devin's talent for puzzle solving on this site is what prompts the Gun Guys to come after her, and it's what prompts Exclamation Point Man's Super Mysterious Handler to send him from his recklessly destructive 'foil gas station robbery' mission to going out to save Devin from gunmen. The job is done by the skin of their teeth, and she's shoved on a bus while the gunmen blow Exclamation Point Man's head off. And then another (or the same?) Exclamation Point Man shows up on the bus with her.
What the hell is going on? Who is this guy? Are there a fleet of these guys? Why are gunmen trying to kil smart people? About the only thing that's certain so far in this book is that Soul Patch Guy is going to turn out to be bad news, and that it's pretty cool pretty quickly. Being relatively unfamiliar with Hopeless' work until he showed up with Avengers Arena, I'm glad to see a book with his name on it that I can freely like, since AA was supposed to just piss me off, but was written so well that it just frustrated me instead. Norton's art is pretty cool, too, although it kind of drives me nuts trying to figure out the physics of Devin's big building-to-building jump, given the panels displaying the positioning. She's on a ledge with her back to the wall, she jumps forward, but somehow winds up landing sideways on the next building over and the building she jumped from seems to have vanished. It's not too much of a story derail, but it's a detail that seemed weird, and thus I was distracted.
The Answer #1 has me hooked for the next few. And it's more fun if you imagine Exclamation Point Man's punches make the same sound that exclamations points used to make on The Electric Company.