Prodigy is the second comics series created and written by Mark Millar as part of the Netflix/Millarworld deal. It brings Millar back together with Rafael Albuquerque, the artist who drew one of my absolute favorite Mark Millar-penned comics, 2015-2016’s Huck. What a joy it is to see Millar and Albuquerque working together again.
The protagonist of Prodigy, Edison Crane, is sort of like the polar opposite of the titular hero of Huck, at least in temperament. Where Huck is modest and self-effacing, Edison is brash and flamboyant (though not without the substance to back it up). His heart, however, is basically in the same place that Huck’s is. While he clearly enjoys the public acclaim and attention he gets, he is nevertheless largely driven by the desire to do good, though a shocking (and slightly horrifying) scene in issue #1’s prologue might lead you to think otherwise at first.
Prodigy is sort of like a cross between a James Bond-esque thriller, conspiratorial sci-fi à la X-Files, and genius superhero comic in the vein of Black Panther or Batman. Crane is a polymath whose combination of genius-level intellect combined with peak physical training rivals that of T’Challa or Bruce Wayne. He’s also, like 007, a snazzily-dressed globe-trotting hero who, I presume—based on what I’ve seen so far—will be utilizing a wide range of weapons, gadgets, and vehicles to achieve his aims. And the central mystery we are teased with in issue #1 has a conspiratorial, X-Files-ish feel to it. It’s a mix of elements that works well, though the key to its success is none other than the eponymous prodigy at the center of the story. As mentioned, Crane is brash and quite proud of his abilities, but behind the intense, distinctive stare of his green eyes is the desire to put his remarkable intellect to good use. He’s not quite what I’d consider a likeable character, at least not yet, but he is certainly an intriguing and compelling one.
An equally important aspect of Crane as a character—at least for some readers, including me—will be his race. As a black man, the fact that he is the world’s smartest individual (in the Millarverse), is staggeringly wealthy, is physically in peak condition, and also has positive intentions at heart will no doubt be inspiring for many readers. Patience Lee, from the recent Kick-Ass relaunch, was also black and gifted in numerous ways but she felt like a more grounded and down-to-earth street hero whereas for the larger-than-life Crane, the sky’s the limit. Patience is sort of like the Luke Cage to Edison Crane’s Black Panther. And the fact is we need to see people of color being both kinds of heroes. With Netflix’s Luke Cage having recently been cancelled, Prodigy will be a welcome new addition to the streaming company’s show lineup and a welcome new hero for readers, people of color or otherwise, to admire.
If you’re already a fan of the Millarworld titles, and in particular the ones that have been released as part of the Netflix deal (namely, this one and The Magic Order), then you probably won’t need much convincing to pick up issue #1 of Prodigy. If you’re uncertain, I challenge you to just read the first nine pages. Go ahead and do it in the store; the shop owner won’t mind. Especially since after getting hit with the aforementioned shocker in the prologue, you’re pretty much guaranteed to want to buy the comic. If not, then check your pulse because not even the considerable medical talents of Edison Crane may be enough to revivify the animated corpse that is you.
(PS: Check out the amazing triptych cover variants for issue #1 which show off the Millarverse characters).