TROJAN, ISSUE #1
Writer: Daniel Kraus
Publisher: AWA Studios
WHAT IS IT?
A dark thriller meets urban fantasy tale.
Think Gun Akimbo meets Bright.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Computer hacker Dirk is minding his business on the rugged streets when a group of men jumps an old man who they think is Fey, one of the city’s magical residents. The Fey are met with disdain here and often captured to make gruesome black market content online. A woman named Nessa sneaks up on Dirk and urges him to help the man, but it goes against his personal philosophy: never get involved.
Despite this, Nessa follows Dirk and eventually reveals that she knows of his dealings on the dark web and that she requires his services. Refusing to detail exactly what she wants, Nessa threatens to reveal him to the police and send a trove of information on all of his illicit activities. Dirk lashes out with a knife but is halted when she reveals that an email with everything will be sent in the morning unless she's alive to stop it. Unknown to Dirk, Nessa is more than she seems and things will only get more complicated as they track down the dark web's deadliest live show.
Kraus displays the differing personalities between Nessa and Dirk right away through their dialogue. It’s immediately clear that they will butt heads as Nessa is a hopeful idealist and Dirk is a cynical individualist.
The cityscape feels like an additional character largely due to Laci’s detailed backgrounds. This makes the city feel alive and gives additional background not present in the dialogue.
Lesko’s muted colors tinged with yellows and greens instantly display the decaying, immoral nature of the setting. It makes everything look sickly.
Cipriano shows his talent for placement through Dirk’s dialogue balloons. This character is longwinded and often required multiple balloons per panel, and yet nothing important was covered the story felt like a smooth read.
Kraus excellently sets up the ending of this story with one subtle scene. It maintains the ending’s impact while also making a logical extension of the rules of this world.
There’s a series of pages with overlapping panels on top of a computer screen that is visually stunning and a great survey of everything illicitly done online.
Every page features a caption box with a “Viewer Count” that slowly increases throughout the book. It’s an excellent suspense-building device and is placed excellently to avoid anything important in the art.
The sound effects lettering has a nice mix of digital and hand-lettered looks that perfectly mesh with the art and visually feel like the sound they are meant to mimic.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: This book has graphic violence as well as depictions of torture, suicide, and implied kidnapping. Anyone sensitive to these topics should avoid reading.
There are a couple of moments where one character has long bouts of dialogue that slow down the pace of the story and don't add much to the narrative. These scenes could take readers out of the story because of this abrupt change.
In the beginning, they are two characters who are similarly clothed and colored. This could cause some mild confusion for readers.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Trojan is a marvelous example of how to create an entire world without large info dumps or an explanatory prologue. Everything the reader needs to know, or will soon find out, is dropped along like little breadcrumbs in the dialogue and the art. It’s incredible the amount of information this issue conveys without holding the reader’s hand. Because of this, I was swept up right away in this gritty cityscape and the hellish underworld which the characters navigate and I’m hungry for more.
The story is excellently paced and I loved seeing the interactions between Dirk and Nessa. Their conflicting views of the world (Nessa being an optimist and Dirk a pessimist) and differing personalities cause them to constantly bicker. Their dialogue and actions establish their traits right away and it's exciting to think about the potential problems that will arise at they butt heads through this dangerous and violent urban fantasy.
The subtlety displayed in the art and coloring display why comics can convey so much story in little space. The background details and muted color palette are as essential as the writing. It’s here that the reader gets the tone that permeates everything and witnesses those breadcrumbs. Having extremely-detailed pencils and colors that are easy on the eyes transports the reader into the story excellently.
Dark urban fantasy is less traversed in comics, so for anyone looking for something a little different with an edge, Trojan would be an excellent choice.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus & Chris Shehan
Year Zero by Daniel Kraus & Goran Sudzuka
Fables by Bill Willingham & Lan Medina
If you like the art:
Ghosted #17-20 by Joshua Williamson & Laci
The Master Inquisitors #9 by Jean-Luc Istin & Laci
Happy! By Grant Morrison & Darick Robertson
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Daniel Kraus (@DanielDKraus) – Writer
A relative newcomer to comics, Kraus has written books for Vault Comics, AWA Studios and was featured in an issue of James Tynion IV and Steve Foxe’s Razorblades.
He is also an award-winning author and screenwriter, most known for co-writing The Shape of Water and Troll Hunters with Guillermo del Toro and his novel The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch.
Kraus is a horror film junky and will give you his best-of list if you sign up for this newsletter Last Kraus on the Left.
Laci - Artist
A pseudonym for artist, Vladimir Krstić, Laci is an internationally published comics artist but has also contributed books for Image, Aftershock, and AWA.
He began his art career in advertising, but later became art director for Cradina publishing house where he started his comics career with the western strip Billy Wanderer.
Laci hails from Serbia.
Marco Lesko (@Marco_Lesko) – Colorist
Beginning his coloring career in 2013, Lesko has established himself as a top talent working with nearly every major comics publisher.
He began his career doing flats for Frank Martin Jr. before taking the reins as colorist for Dynamite’s Twilight Zone in 2014.
Lesko hails from Brazil.
Sal Cipriano (@SalCipriano) – Letterer
Cipriano is an established talent with 20 years of lettering under his belt. He is a frequent contributor to DC Comics but has also lettered books for Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite, IDW, Aftershock, and AWA Studios.
He also reviews action figures on his YouTube channel ULTRAZILLA!.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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