Review by Frank Plowright
Psy vs. Psy’s clever title references the long-running Mad strip, and refreshes the previously poorly handled Matt Price. He’s a corporate-developed telepath also capable of taking control of people’s brains, and Fred Van Lente applies a lot more thought to the possibilities of that than his 1960s predecessors ever did. In doing so, though, he’s respectful to what that series was, as the process material shows.
A fast-paced and extended opening chapter has Price seconded to the US government for the purpose of ensuring a conference poses no threats. A first person narrative reveals his confidence and tedium before being taken by surprise, and the reality of being a corporate employee rather than a full protective agent. As an introduction to his world it’s very good, and the background serves to distance him from the similarly powered Professor X.
That background is brought into sharper focus over the main story, in which US government agency resentments over Price not being under their control and blackmail are imposed over a thin veneer of real world politics as they were in 2013. More gradual is Price developing a conscience about what he does, who he’s allocated to protect and the monsters they can be.
Freddie Williams II on the opening chapter and R.B. Silva (sample art) on the remaining three centre Price in a real world with the occasional high-tech trappings. Both hit the spot when it comes to delivering the action, and Silva especially has to deal with a constantly morphing character, whom he brings to life very well in assorted identities. It’s an indication that despite only ever being seen in a suit, Price is a superhero.
For Brain Boy to work Price needs to face a threat more in keeping with his own abilities, and that duly arrives, sustained for the remainder of Psy vs. Psy. At times the deceit of constantly shifting allegiances and deceptions is difficult to keep up with, but it all falls into place by the end, and Van Lente has a couple of threads unresolved to lead into The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T.