Writer: Jed McPherson
Artist: Marco Perugini
Publisher: TPub Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A spy mystery-thriller exploring the modern-day remnants of Cold War espionage in a sparse, bleak package.
Think Manchurian Candidate meets The Imitation Game.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After listening to a cryptic radio station that continuously states strings of numbers, a banker snaps and shoots up his office, killing eleven and injuring as many. Among those killed is an undercover agent for the British secret service. This prompts a secret investigation into the nature of the shooting.
It is soon discovered that this radio station, a Russian coding device leftover from the Cold War, may have something to do with it. The agents resolve to track down the creator and attempt to crack a code that has never been deciphered. But will they be able to discover what they need before more bodies are claimed and, for that matter, be able to figure out what is truly at stake?
Perugini's rough, economic art style sets an incredible tone for this spy thriller. The simplicity on the surface hides a surprising amount of detail and a potentially complex narrative. It perfectly matches the secretive nature of the subject matter.
Bennion's bleak, smeared colors would traditionally be seen in a story with more horror-centric elements, but in this case, work to sell the ominous and threatening tone of everyday people.
McPherson's lettering is economic and flows well, matching the slick, efficient style of his secret-service employed characters.
On the same note, the lettering knows when to get loud, take risks, and stand out, which helps the action of the book to break out against the procedural aspects.
The characters manage to be expressive and their movements are clear and fluid despite the rough art style that would normally limit those factors.
There's a ton of information displayed on each page without ever being cluttered or confusing.
Though a little cartoonish, the more gruesome moments in the story still resonate and inspire some amount of dread and unnerving in the reader, which is what the story intends, so it's a good thing.
There are few answers in this first issue, but enough intrigue to pull the reader in, which is all a first installment needs to do.
The use of red to represent a crazed state is ominous and unsettling, and creates an effective contrast with the coloring in the rest of the book.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The characters rarely use names and their dialogue is a bit mechanical, which makes them hard to connect with.
The pacing, while probably appropriate for the subject matter and scope of the story, is too fast to appreciate character moments or allow for relatable motivations beyond "this is a job."
Depictions of violence and gore make this comic decidedly not child-friendly.
Using Cyrillic letters to represent translated Russian is a bit played-out, makes the text harder to read, and loses credibility with anyone who can speak a language that uses that alphabet. (A backward R doesn't sound like an R, it sounds like "Ya.")
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
There's more than enough suspense and intrigue to hook you in this first issue of the 4-issue miniseries, and knowing ahead of time how long this series will run gives certain assurances that the story will keep its focus and edge. The intriguing concept and purposefully rough style stand out amongst the superpolished style that's risen to the mainstream in recent years.
Personally, I find it hard to connect with a story that doesn't emphasize characters over plot; however, if you like a good old fashion spy story – one that hones in on the mystery and the investigation over the car chases and gunfights – this series looks promising. The art is unique, there's more than enough provocative material to keep you interested, and it never bogs itself down to bore the reader with cumbersome details. It's not the comic I'm most excited to read, but I definitely want to know what happens next.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Show by Jed McPherson & Joseph Velasquez
Red Winter by Michael Gordon & Francisco Munoz
It Looks Back by J.S.B.
If you like the art:
Morgan Lost N. 10 by Claudio Chiaverotti & Marco Perugini
Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
The Edge Off by Fraser Campbell & Iain Laurie
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jed McPherson – Writer & Letterer
On the Rise: Works mostly on short comics and webcomics, but is breaking into the full comic format with this Kickstarted project.
Inspired by the works of Elmore Leonard, Ed Brubaker and Warren Ellis
Marco Perugini – Artist
Outlander: Hails from Italy. Not much else is widely known about him.
Shannon Bennion – Colorist
Regularly posts full comics, self-portraits, commissions, and mesmerizing character illustrations on her personal twitter.
Neil Gibson – Editor
Multitalented: Aside from editing several books at TPub, writes several of his own series including Twisted Dark, Tabitha, and Tortured Life.
HOW DO I SUPPORT IT?
The Kickstarter ends on Monday, October 7th. The entire first issue of this 4-issue miniseries is available to read for free on the campaign's page.
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