The Elemental Balance #1 Is Not A Modern Day Captain Planet

by James Ferguson

Chloe pursues science, searching for information as to a strange connection she feels to the elements. Her boyfriend, Vijay isn’t particularly supportive of this, but that doesn’t stop her. When a nightmare turns to reality and she finds herself imbued with the ability to manipulate water, she heads out into the world to look for answers and discovers she’s not the only one with powers like this.

It’s hard to read The Elemental Balance and not make a comparison to Captain Planet, so I’m going to get that out of the way up front. From the looks of the first issue, a group of people will receive powers based on different elements, like water, earth, and fire. I don’t know what will happen when they all come together, but I’m betting that they won’t form a green guy that will tell everyone to recycle.

While Chloe’s story seems compelling, there’s not enough there to pull us in yet. It’s very superficial. The same can be said for the other characters introduced as well. Their actions are done not out of a specific motivation, but because that’s what is needed to move the story along. Vijay is a great example of this as he’s rather one dimensional, checking the box for a jock stereotype.

There’s a great mystery at work in The Elemental Balance. I am intrigued by what could be causing these strange powers to manifest and what they could mean for the world as a whole. Writer Zain Shenwari goes through great lengths to outline some possibilities early in the issue, but this comes through a little blocky and very text heavy. With things like this, it’s rarely necessary to go into such detail about the laws of physics and the conservation of energy. We never asked why a radioactive spider gave Peter Parker super powers, right?

Artist Luke Horsman has a unique style for The Elemental Balance. It borders on cartoonish at times, while still conveying dramatic tension. Chloe’s nightmare is a perfect example of this. She’s running from an epic mudslide that begins to engulf her. The dirty water sloshes all around her, swallowing her whole as we zoom in for a shot of her face and one last close-up image of her fear-filled eye before it disappears. This is a terrific layout.

Some of the other sequences can be a little blocky with the characters shown in odd positions or awkward angles. This is where the cartoony side comes up and it often appears in more dramatic scenes so it takes away from the momentum that was building.

The Elemental Balance has some definite potential. This first issue runs before it walks, trying to explain a bit too much too fast. As we learn about the other super-powered people and how this all ties together, it might get more concise.

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