This starts a new series for me here and one that will be expanded into Marvel and any other obscure series that got lost to time. The first part of this is going to be talking about iCandy, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning or DnA’s seemingly lost series. It was done between 2003 and 2004 for six issues with co-creator and artist Kalman Andrasofszky with help from Eric Vedder and Rob Ross from UDON in the latter half of the run. iCandy was done when Abnett and Lanning were working on The Legion of Superheroes, simply called The Legion, for DC Comics at the time. For Andrasofszky in my research this was his first big gig for a major comic company. This makes this comic series a unique one as this is a series that was supposed to be ongoing but sales weren’t in the favor of the team. Yet why did it not catch the eyes of the audience and why was it canceled so soon before it even had a shot? That’s what I aim to figure out there. I’ve read the entire series as initially I was going to do this issue by issue, yet the series itself is so short that it is pretty digestible for one article. Sit back, relax, and let’s see what the journey into iCandy #1-6 has to offer us and in turn how the series is as a whole now.
Getting to know iCandy as a story is a strange case, it starts off simple as a boy named Matthew Spencer is dealing with the aftermath of his parents divorce. Even worse is in the aftermath of the divorce his sister Candace has also gone missing, a double whammy of pain that would be tough for any kid to handle. He’s gone mostly silent it seems and gotten lost in the world of the video games and a justified case of being a broken kid at this point. His school life is a mess, his home life is a mess, and yet the one thing that keeps him together is video games. He lives on the East Coast, likely New York as the story doesn’t really make that clear where he is. His Dad lives on the West Coast working for a video game company called I.F.X. Games and he sends his son new stuff they’ve been working on. In the aftermath of a bad day during a storm, Matthew sits down and plays with a new game his Dad sends him and sets it up seeing a character that looks like his sister. He selects her and in the midst of the storm, the character known as Candy comes to life. Which begins our adventure. (Also an amazing piece of art by Kalman Andrasofszky too, isn’t it gorgeous?)
Now here’s the thing you know all the information I give you about the story? That’s from #1 and yet the full story about his Mom and Dad’s divorce isn’t mentioned until issue #2. The brutal part is Matthew is so silent in the issue and we don’t get a full sense of our cast of characters. His Mom doesn’t get that much to do outside of be angry with Matthew, and his Dad pops up via a phone and letter to set up Candy in the story. The best part about #1 and #2 is the fact that Andrasofszky’s art is beautiful. It’s beautiful work, Candy’s design is impressive and her initial appearance #1 and the top notch fights #2 are worth seeing. The way that her move structure is set up like a fighting game showing how you’d do the move on a controller is a nice touch. ItEven showing how Candy sees the world as a video game and pocketing a shotgun for her inventory is pretty slick. It captures a game character in the real world well for the most part. Yet any actual character work in this story doesn’t begin until late into #2. I can see why this story was a tough sell as when you don’t get anything to grasp onto until #2 and the story itself doesn’t really begin until #3, I can understand why it didn’t go over well then.
Yet when #3-6 start into the true iCandy story, that’s when it starts to become an interesting yet messy read. Before I start into things remember, this was supposed to be an ongoing and even I could barely process how the story points were flying at me as a reader. You get the intro into the villain of the piece Mr. Childes and his henchman of sorts Korben. You get a loose intro in #2 and then start getting more of an idea of the true nature of I.F.X. throughout #3 and right up into #6. During all of this, part of the focus is on Matt and Candy’s road trip to meet up with Matt’s Dad, Mike. #4 is where we start learning that Candy can be hurt but she recovers quickly and was likely used as a new reader issue, which explains all the stuff we should have known more in #1. By the way, you’re wondering where is Matt’s Mom? Matt’s Mom is at home and doesn’t have much to do at this stage of the story which makes me scratch my head a lot. Mike learns more about the company I.F.X. Games that he works for in the process. You learn that I.F.X. is in a video game battleground. There’s these creatures that Candy and Matt fight on their trip that are called Bit-Maps who are called EDS or Extra Dimensional Sentients. It gets weird to say the least as this is getting explained in #5. Reality and Gaming blurring together, which is such a cool concept but again, explained late in the game so to speak. I can only imagine what this was like for anyone following this monthly.
Yet what is frustrating is the fact that the art is so consistently good in the story. The UDON crew of Eric Vedder and Rob Ross on this mesh well with Andrasofszky. The bright aesthetics of Candy mixing anime flash with a killer structure of storytelling are excellent for the team. It looks so good and has great visuals that it drove me nuts that the story was so messy. Childes verges between supervillain and someone trying to help and then earlier Korben straight up kills someone only by the end gets to show a decent side. Good art with strange characterization, my word iCandy is a pretty mess. Yet the final issue is a massive battle in I.F.X. straight up the climatic battle of the Video Game characters taking life in a battle against Candy. It’s an amazing fight scene, by this point it is Vedder, Ross, and Andrasofszky with Jamie Noguchi on colors, and it looks good. Is it strange I could end up recommending reading this just for the fight scenes?
There are moments of greatness though, Matt and Candy’s road trip and their relationship, Matt and his Dad’s relationship, and all of their friendships make it a good read. What makes me sad a bit is outside of Matt’s Mom being sad that Matt is gone, we don’t really get a glimpse into their relationship. When I say his Mom gets sent to the sidelines quick, she gets sent to the sidelines and never to return. If you’re wondering if Candy from the game is Matt’s sister Candace, well it is explained and it is probably the most coherent plot point in the comic. The art is solid throughout, from good to amazing, and that is one of the best parts of the comic throughout the run. It’s a shame that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning couldn’t have gotten more time and fleshed out the story more early on, iCandy could have been a great series. If only the main story could have been as strong as the art.
If you’re wondering if you should hunt down iCandy for yourself, yes and no. If you’re a huge Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning fan it is worth seeking out and especially if you like rocking artwork. The story does have a solid ending despite the messiness in the story. It is hard to be too mean on this comic series considering that it barely got a chance to develop. Yet this is what we are left with, a six issue story that has great fight scenes with hit or miss character development due to the time Abnett and Lanning had with the series. As a series, iCandy is easy to find in any back issue bin, online comic store, and you can likely find a full series set for cheap on eBay right now. It isn’t available on ComiXology for anyone curious in grabbing this instantly. A strange but fascinating start through my journey into the Obscure DC Comics, thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments below.