Review | Noble Causes Archives Volume 1 (Image Comics)

Title: Noble Causes Archives Volume 1
Author: Jay Faerber
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 2008

Reviewed by: Steve Aryan

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The earliest adventures of the world-famous Noble family are collected for the first time in one volume. Normal girl Liz Donnelly marries super-hero Race Noble and gets a firsthand look at the inner workings of the celebrity super-heroes. Behind the glamour and wonder lie dark secrets, ruthless ambition, and twisted desires.
This is one of those series that I always meant to pick up when it was coming out but somehow I missed the boat. Now it’s been collected in a couple of massive archives and each of them has some serious heft with about 600 pages. This first archive collects a number of mini series that focus on a superhero family called the Nobles. Imagine a situation where the Fantastic Four were celebrities who often appear in magazines, at high profile events dripping with the latest fashion and are idolised and adored by millions around the world. That’s essentially who the Nobles are, but unlike other superhero comics, of which there are hundreds, this focuses almost completely on their relationships when they are out of costume. There is the occasional scuffle, but in essence this is a slice of life comic with a cast of people who just happen to be superheroes and members of the same family.

Despite all of their powers and abilities, despite the number of times they’ve saved the world, all of the characters are a real mess. Doc is the father in the family and although he loves his wife, Gaia, they have trust issues, which is not surprising given that she cheated on him and had another son with another man. Race can run at super speed and yet against the wishes of his mother he married an ordinary woman without powers who works in a bookshop. This causes all sorts of problems, initially, and Gaia works hard to spin it in a positive light so the media do not rip the newcomer to shreds or cast aspersions on the Noble name. Frost is the bastard son, unwanted and disliked by most, and yet he is desperate for attention and approval. Rusty is the eldest son and he’s having serious issues connecting with everyone and everything. Although that isn’t too surprising since he nearly died in a fight with a super villain and his body was so badly damaged everyone expected to die. However, his genius father, Doc, transplanted his brain into a robot body, which causes a lot of problems for him, and his loving and sleazy wife. And to top it all off, the youngest daughter in the family is pregnant and won’t tell anyone who the father is.

This first archive has a lot of interesting twists and turns and it covers a fairly big chunk of the Nobles life. It’s a great spotlight on them as human beings and not heroes cracking jokes while fighting their nemesis who is trying to bash in their skull. We see what the Nobles are really like when the cameras are not on them and there’s no one to fight. They have to deal with each and the results are often not very pretty because they are all very flawed individuals and far from perfect. To outsiders they might be fantastic role models who never make mistakes, but that’s just not realistic. Characterisation has to be strong for a story like this and thankfully all of the characters feel real within the superhero fantasy setting. You get caught up in their lives and petty struggles, and like any good soap opera there are cliff-hanger endings and you just have to turn the page to find out who the baby’s father is, or why a particular character was acting so peculiar and out of character. The artist changes throughout the archive because it collects a number of mini series that were published over a period of several years, but the voice is consistent in the writer and this is big plus.

Some people say there is nothing new to do with the superhero genre, but Faerber has proven that theory wrong. I really enjoyed this first archive and will definitely seek out the second as there were a number of plot threads left dangling and I just need to know what happens in the end.

Jim Black  – (6 January 2011 at 05:38)  

Faerber did okay working on DC's Teen Titans but his creator owned work has really impressed me. I enjoy both Noble Causes and Dynamo 5.

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