As cases of mistaken identity go, The Weatherman is a glorious technicolour-fabulous doozy.
Well, mistaken in the mind of the weatherman himself, Nathan Bright, outrageously fun, good-naturedly lovable bad boy of Martian news some 750 years in the future where Mars and Venus are heavily-populated outposts of the human race.
He can, in the eyes of his viewers at least do no wrong.
Witty, cavalier and able to spin his persona on a wisecracking dime, Bright is the kind of guy who can sleep in, barely make it to the studio in time for a broadcast and somehow make through the whole messy business unscathed.
Lesser mortals would be looking for a new career or job opportunity but Nathan? Roguishly, charmingly Teflon-coated, a man with a life to envy, a girlfriend in the making and a dog named Sadie who does what every faithful hound should do and loves her master unreservedly with bark-heavy delight, no, Nathan merrily skips along as happy-go-lucky and full of cheeky bravura as ever.
But then everything goes terribly wrong, a departure from a garrulously-enjoyable script that leaves Bright flatfooted and scrambling, badly as it turns out to recover – everyone’s favourite weatherman is accused of playing a key role in wiping 18 billion of the face of the earth, a revelation that comes on the 7th anniversary of the attack which is commemorated by solemn, speech-heavy political posing and demonstrations of furious frustration by still griefstricken population on Mars.
If there was a good time to be accused of mass murder and really there isn’t is there, this is most definitely not it.
Like any tale of supposedly mistaken identity – Nathan Bright says he isn’t the worst mass murderer in history; a phalanx of quite violent people bent on either retribution or stopping the next rumoured attack beg to differ and with extreme prejudice – The Weatherman starts off sunny and bright (puns most definitely intended) with writer Jody Leheup beautifully-timing the moment when everything goes unexpectedly to crap.
She manages that magical trick of making Nathan just likeable enough not to be arrogantly dislikable, full of fun-loving swagger but vulnerable enough that when the proverbial really hits the fan, that he, like us, is wondering just what the hell is going on.
We do know more of course, thanks to Leheup’s expertly-revealed exposition which glides organically into the narrative barely upsetting its not-too-fast, not-too-slow flow, but watching Nathan grapple, and epically grapple he does when the cockiness that is his well-worn polished patina slips away and he finally comprehends that the people who’ve taken him, and others who are after him, are most definitely not kidding around.
Not even a little bit.
Weaving in poignant elements of 9/11 commemorations, a lingering collective grief that is just under the surface for pretty much everyone all of the time, and a raging sense by the terror cell responsible for the massacre on Earth, Sword of God, which believes in the way of fanatics everyone that they are alone are able to “save us from ourselves!” and you have a insightfully robust story that grips at the start with the shiny lightheartedness of its lead character, blissfully unaware of what lies ahead, and draws you compulsively still further at every step, with revelation after revelation, action set piece after emotionally-charged moment.
It’s brilliantly and affectingly executed, with just enough comedy, coming from guess who, to leaven out the reality of a solar system muddied in its marched to a gloriously technologically-enabled future by a terrorist cell hellbent on derailing it permanently.
Sound like our blighted present much?
The other masterstroke of this wholly well-executed series is the way Leheup neatly balances narrative momentum with the big reveals.
There’s no Lost syndrome at work here, that gnawingly annoying place where not enough is revealed, leaving you wondering what they hell is going on, or more accurately why the hell it’s all happening.
It’s good we’re given quite bit of background and explanation early on since The Weatherman dives almost straight into some fairly intense storytelling that would have been depleted in its impact somewhat if we’d been left guessing about things.
Having said that Leheup doesn’t then make the cardinal mistake of telling us too much, so awash in revelatory exposition that the tension and sense of expectation is leached out like a loads of clothing left in a tubful of bleach.
At the risk of sounding too Goldilocks and the Three Bears-ian, the narrative positioning of this exquisitely well-coloured series, which is colourful when Bright is in his garrulous, unscathed ascendancy, and more muted when everything goes pear-shaped, is just right, making it a pleasure to read.
The good thing about reading three issues at a trot if you get a good chance of whether all these positive attributes are a one-issue wonder or they have narrative legs; the good news is that The Weatherman is consistently, entertainingly good, a brilliant addition to the “What the hell just happened to my life” genre of existentially-seismic storytelling that will keep you utterly beguiled from start to, well, whatever the finish will be.
I have high expectations it will be very good indeed.