written by Scott Christian Sava
illustrated by Joseph Bergin III
Joey can’t wait for class to end. There’s five minutes left—three hundred seconds—but as he watches the clock, the seconds seem to be ticking away more and more slowly.
That’s a familiar situation for most of us: Time slows when we’re bored or impatient. But that’s not what’s going on with Joey. Time only seems to be slowing because he’s speeding up, as he discovers when he whizzes around a classroom filled with apparently frozen classmates. A visit to the doctor reveals that Joey’s metabolism has gone into overdrive, allowing him to move with super speed.
Being a basically good kid, Joey doesn’t use this power for anything more spectacular than winning at dodgeball and stealing some lollipops. However, it doesn’t take long for others to think of more nefarious uses for his super speed, from advertising sports drinks to working for the mob. After an unsuccessful visit by some very stereotypical gangsters, Joey’s parents put him in lockdown. That’s not enough to keep away the evil Burnz and Itchez Pharmaceutical Corporation, however, whose CEO, Seymour Haliburton Itchez, sends a comically inept team of kidnappers to capture Joey and steal his DNA. And they almost succeed, too, except for one meddling kid—Joey’s best friend and wannabe sidekick, Freddy, who springs in at the last moment to save the day.
Hyperactive is a real kids’ comic. There’s nothing subtle about it; the bad guys are obviously bad, the humor is broad, and the violence is played for laughs. The side characters, including the over-the-top gym teacher and the hapless kidnappers, are pretty funny, and Joey’s parents manage to be reassuring without being overbearing or total bumblers, like most comic-book parents.
Bergin’s art is kinetic and stylized, with a strong Nickelodeon vibe. The action is easy to follow, and the characters’ personalities are obvious from their faces and gestures. He uses panels effectively to show time speeding up and slowing down, and he draws on some other tricks of the trade as well, such as splaying an energetic dodgeball game across several wedge-shaped panels. His colors are bright and expressive, with different color schemes setting the mood for different scenes.
Sava’s writing is witty, and the story is straightforward—maybe a bit too much so. It would have been nice to see Joey exploit his powers a bit more, perhaps to create some mischief, but instead, the plot devolves into a simple kidnap-and-rescue tale. Still, it works well, with plenty of action and slapstick comedy to keep the story moving.
With its matte cover, French flaps, and rich color, Hyperactive has a deluxe feel to it. The book is nicely designed and well-produced. Underneath all that, though, it’s a real kid’s comic, the kind of book you read under the covers with a flashlight.