Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Leandro Fernandez
Release Date: 3rd September 2014
Wall Street trader Kevin Walker commits suicide by hurling himself from the window of his fifty-first floor office. While he’s far from the first trader to make this decision, it turns out that Kevin’s decision may have been for him. The opening issue of The Names, the new Vertigo series in stores today, does a fantastic job of drawing you in from the first two or three pages. Watching Kevin pleading for his life with the callous, manipulative ‘Surgeon’ instantly makes us want to know more about the events leading up to this moment, and about the shadowy cabal who are pulling the strings from the shadows.
Himself something of a Vertigo regular, writer Peter Milligan throws a lot of ideas at the wall in this first issue, and the vast majority of them stick like glue. The story revolves around Katya Walker, Kevin’s grieving widow, who we quickly find out is far from a weak, trembling damsel in distress. While mere hints are dropped about Katya’s relationship with Kevin, enough is revealed to make us instantly invest in this character, and her single-minded determination to get to the bottom of her husband’s apparent murder is difficult not to get behind.
Aside from Katya, we’re also introduced to Philip, Kevin’s math genius son from his previous marriage, whose relationship with Katya may run a little deeper than simply ‘angry step-son’. We also get a little taster of the ‘Names’ themselves, the shadowy, manipulative cabal who are seemingly orchestrating everything, and while we only get a brief glimpse behind the curtain, there’s more than enough here to pique our interest. And as if that’s not enough, we also find out about the ‘Dark Loops’, chunks of sentient code that seem to be working in conflict with the Names, setting off a bloody revolution in Macedonia by destabilising the country’s currency. Like I said, there’s a lot of moving parts here, but each one serves to further enhance the story, and sink the hook in deeper and deeper.
Milligan’s vision is brought to life by the confident artwork of Lenadro Fernandez. Using a slightly exaggerated style to convey the emotion of his characters, his approach works well to give the story a larger than life feel to it, rather than merely a bleak, joyless ‘paint by numbers’ thriller. He also does a fantastic job during the issue’s brief foray into action, conveying the urgency and frenzied movement of the exchange beautifully. Cris Peter’s colours also help to enhance the mood, with his heavy uses of yellows and light oranges giving the book a truly distinct visual style.
The first issue of The Names serves as an appetizer, a fleeting glimpse at a larger world and what seems poised to be a conspiracy with far-reaching implications. But most of all, it serves as an introduction to Katya Walker, a compelling and multi-layered protagonist who I’m going to be watching with a great deal of interest as this series moves forward. Another hit from the folks at Vertigo, and a fantastically intriguing first chapter from Milligan. Well worth a look, folks.
[Click thumbnail for full size image]
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says