Writer: Kieren Stevens
Illustrator: Domenico Pagano
Publisher: Broadcast Comics
WHAT IS IT?
This may look like yet another superhero fiction comic, but Diamond #1 features a uniquely isolated, reckless, and virtually indestructible protagonist who doesn't necessarily want to be a hero.
Think of superheroes with powers like Luke Cage and Dazzler engaged in Megamind's morally questionable power dynamic.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In London, a former rock-star-turned-superhero named Grayson Matthews drowns his regrets at a local bar. Everyone in the world knew of the famous, but highly impetuous musician. When his affinity for pills suddenly endows him with energy manipulation abilities and unbreakable skin, Grayson accidentally causes an unimaginably tragic accident.
Grayson experiences loneliness after he loses both the friends and his fans that turn their backs on the former rock god. Consequently, Grayson painfully discovers that gaining superpowers doesn't automatically turn him into a superhero. How will the consequences of his previous, selfish disregard for others impact him? Will Grayson learn to control his unfathomable abilities before he puts more people in danger?
Kieren Stevens makes a strong solo debut as a writer in the comics industry with this astute, provocative entry about a morally ambiguous protagonist navigating the responsibilities attached to superpowers. Stevens supplies a fresh angle to the superhero genre already in this first issue.
Artist Domenico Pagano illustrates the story of Grayson Matthews by applying a gritty and realistic appearance to the characters and setting. The shadowy art is offset by eruptions of crackling light to demonstrate the contrast between Grayson's guilt-ridden life of fame and coming to terms with his newfound, overwhelming powers.
Pagano decisively uses seedy purple-and-black tones to capture the rock-star-era flashbacks, while sparkling flashes and explosions of blue amplify the energy in scenes that reveal the harmful nature of Grayson's superhuman abilities.
Lettering is skillfully handled by Rob Jones, who maintains the narrative's steely tone through bent, hardened lettering.
Amoral or antihero protagonists like Deadpool are often offset with comedy, but Stevens chooses to frame Grayson's story from a serious, contemplative perspective. The weighty tone works as it works to portray authenticity and relatability.
By relating themes like regret and self-actualization, reader feelings toward Grayson's initially unlikable persona transforms by the end of the issue.
Superhero abilities are exciting to witness in the comic medium. Pagano's art is dynamic and propelling in the swift-moving panels where Grayson fights against bank robbers.
The chilling scene of a house on the brink of implosion sizzles with scintillating energy. From the layout to the color contrasts, the huge panel is unforgettably visceral.
Purple is an oft-avoided color in comics. Purple's ubiquitous presence in the comic accurately fosters the theme of destruction and a punk/rock-star vibe.
Jagged edges on opposing sides of the dialogue boxes stand out when the TV reporter relates Grayson's fall from grace. The style is noticeable because of how it remarkably conveys the importance of the dialogue.
Anticipation builds with each page as readers end up longing to understand how Grayson's backstory shaped his present-day, enigmatic character.
Diamond #1 contains an overarching moody tone, but the story beats procure an oscillating sense of pathos and empathy.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Slight profanity, death, and themes like addiction are directed at a more mature audience.
The villain Mannequin is introduced, but his powers aren't made entirely clear in this first issue.
The bank robbery brawl is cinematic, but a lot of pages dedicate themselves to this flashback sequence. When Grayson gets his powers, the story is much shorter. The former plot point could have been condensed and the latter plot point could have been mildly expanded for better balance.
There was room for more focus on present-day Grayson, but laying the foundation of his origin story takes understandable precedence.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Diamond #1 is sincere in its depiction of a man whose destructive behavior results in an empathetic moral conflict. Most superhero stories present protagonists who celebrate their superhuman powers. In Diamond #1, Grayson Matthews is a diamond in the rough. He is forced to reconcile with his calamitous past while simultaneously forging a future that includes dangerous superpowers. The comic strategically approaches Grayson's moral and physical dilemmas with integrity.
Diamond #1 introduces a character readers aren't originally sympathetic toward, but later supplies an emotional equilibrium. This issue lays the building blocks for an expansive narrative. Find pleasure as you navigate Grayson's complicated life, attempts at maturation and redemption, and witness the astonishing artistry of Grayson's unhinged powers.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
UltraMax by Doug Wood & Michael Pickard
The Other History of the DC Universe by John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Alex Dos Diaz
Brotherman by Dawud Anyabwile & Guy A. Sims
If you like the art:
Planet of the Apes: Ursus by David F. Walker & Christopher Mooneyham
Catwoman #25 by Ram V, John, Paul Leon, Juan E. Ferreyra, & Fernando Blanco
North Bend by Ryan Ellsworth & Rob Carey
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Kieren Stevens – Writer (MrKierenStevens)
New Face: Diamond is Kieren's solo comic writing debut! His writing can also be found in Mad Robot Comic's Cadavers: World Gone to Hell.
Co-founder of the Indie comic company, Broadcast Comics.
Outlander: He hails from West Sussex, England.
Domenico Pagano – Illustrator (gnomono)
Works with Steven's comic company, Broadcast Comics.
Outlander: He is a Peru-based comic artist.
Rob Jones – Letterer (RobJonesWrites)
Multitalented: He is a writer, co-founder of the Indie comic company, Madius Comics, and has worked as a letterer for several comic companies such as Image, Humanoids, Heavy Metal, and Scout.
Co-wrote Papercuts and Inkstains, Griff Gristle and Ramlock Investigates with Mike Sambrook, to name a few titles.
Award Winner: He made the 2015 British Comic Awards longlist for Papercuts and Inkstains. HORRERE was nominated for two Ghastly Awards in 2016.
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