Worth From Roddenberry Entertainment and Arcana Studio

Roddenberry Entertainment has been dabbling in comics. Their latest release, in connection with Arcana, is Worth. It’s got a decent, intriguing premise, but the execution is flat. The whole thing feels like a wannabe movie pitch, in large part due to the familiarity of the plot.

We first meet Grant Worth during the Detroit riots of 1967, where he uses his power of mechanopathy (the ability to communicate with machines) to intervene between citizens and soldiers. In the modern day, Worth’s power is almost worthless, as he can’t cope with computers. He’s become the grouchy old man next door, living in a desolate neighborhood — just like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. Elliot, a kid interested in robotics, meets Worth when Elliot’s friend talks him into trying to rip off wiring from a foreclosed house and Elliot gets caught by Worth.

We later find out that Worth once had a wife and daughter, just to have more loss in his background. His Luddite friend Eddie becomes increasingly paranoid about the machines taking over the world, driving a wedge between them. Finally, halfway through the book, we meet Elliot’s mom, the only major living female character in the story. She works as a security officer and cooks breakfast for the guys.

The art, by Chris Moreno, is attractive, easy to read, and tells the story, without any particularly eye-catching element I feel the need to mention. He gets the job done well.

The young minority boy who provides a reason for the jaded hero to once again be helpful is a cliche these days. I wanted to see more about Worth learning to cope with the modern world, but his reasons for withdrawing are stuffed with predictability. The Detroit setting could make for symbolic parallelism, but it’s not used to its full potential, much like the rest of the story. Instead, there’s a lengthy robot flashback that appears to have wandered in from some other movie. The end postulates a crazy conspiracy where — in a stunning coincidence — Elliot’s mother is taken captive, to give Worth a chance to rescue her.

The bones here could have made for an interesting, different story, but writer Aubrey Sitterson goes for the familiar whenever he can, resulting is something that feels warmed-over with unfortunate sexist overtones and too much trauma drama. The part of the book that made me grin was the late reveal of the hero’s old nickname: The Motor City Machine Master. I was also glad to see a superhero story that didn’t feel the need to start with an origin, since what Worth does is more interesting than how he got his ability.

In addition to the hardcover book, the first chapter can be downloaded for free at ComiXology. The digital collection is $10, or the individual chapters (total of five) can be bought for $2 each. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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