REVIEW: While Exposition-Heavy, Reptil #1 Never Feels Like a Drag

Bobby reviews the first issue of Reptil.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not too familiar with the character of Reptil. I have a cursory understanding of his character so I do appreciate that this issue begins with a general recap of who Reptil is and what he’s doing right now. 

To give a brief overview on who Reptil is, Humberto Lopez is a teenager who, thanks to finding an amulet on one of his parents’ (who are paleontologists) digsites, has the ability to turn into any species of dinosuar. Ever since then, he’s been the superhero now known as Reptil.

Source: Marvel Comics

Since this is a four-issue miniseries, I was worried that this recap would take up space that could be considered valuable in terms of set-up. But Terry Blas does a good job of establishing the crux of its story around an aspect of Humberto’s background that is covered in the recap, which I believe could interest fans of the character. 

That being said, I still feel that even with a recap that doesn’t feel like a waste of pages a lot of this issue felt like set-up, at least until the last few pages. Normally, I’d be critical of this, but I think in the case of Reptil, it is essential for Humberto’s character. For the reader, it provides a glimpse into how he and his loved ones are feeling. He’s someone who’s dealing with that elusive beast known as uncertainty, especially after a certain event that involved teenage superheroes of the Marvel universe known as Outlawed (don’t worry about it; the issue explains what happened there). So when there is that big revelation, it felt earned and as someone who considers this series as his first foray into the character, I was also interested.

This speaks to one of the merits of the book, which is its accessibility. This is obviously a book that I am sure existing Reptil fans will enjoy but, as mentioned earlier for someone like me who has never read any of the character’s previous appearances, I didn’t have to worry about “catching up” with Reptil’s history. 

Source: Marvel Comics

Even for readers new to comics, Reptil #1 does provide a good entry point with a character who would be interesting even if he was taken outside of Marvel continuity. His dinosaur powers and excellent design showcase a character rife with potential. What was mentioned earlier about how there’s no need to “catch up” with the character’s history also means that non-comic book readers don’t have to be intimidated by any sort of prior continuity, which is oftentimes a failing of the Big Two (Marvel and DC) comic books; that they’re so obsessed with sticking to continuity to the detriment of new readers who may have the slightest of interest in comic books. Which is why this comic serves as an excellent jumping on point for readers looking to get into comics in general. For all intents and purposes, this is essentially a new character in a world they don’t have to be too acquainted with outside of a few references, which aren’t crucial to understanding the story. 

While the recap pages are beneficial in terms of the aforementioned accessibility, they are also a good opportunity for Blas to give humanity to these characters. It should also be noted that having a Latinx writer like Terry Blas tackle these characters gives them a voice of authenticity. There’s an honesty to Humberto and his loved ones that gets the readers invested into the character from the jump. And I am sure that had this book been written by a writer who is not part of the culture that Humberto and his loved ones are from, there wouldn’t be that honesty. It would have felt artificial and they wouldn’t have felt like real characters. 

Blas is also lucky to work with a good penciller. While I would have loved to see more of Enid Balám’s art, especially with Reptil’s transformation, it’s still nice to look at. The designs for Humberto’s dinosaur alter-egos are really cool to see and I do hope to see him become more unrestrained with how he draws Reptil’s dinosaur forms.

The pencils are balanced well with Victor Olazaba’s inking, which has a smoothness to it that I appreciate. And while I do feel like a series like this could have utilised bolder colours to make it stand out more, Carlos Lopez is still a good colorist. And last but not least, the lettering by VC’s Joe Sabino stays consistent and readable.

Source: Marvel Comics

Considering this issue as a whole, I’d say that it is good at keeping readers invested in the titular character and his loved ones, especially with its accessibility. And while I would normally be concerned with a four-issue series that begins with this much exposition, the ending is proof that this series is about to kick into high gear.

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