Review – The Empty #1 (Image Comics)

Empty01-Cover-76545Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Jimmie Robinson
Released: 11th February, 2015

I’m not really sure what to make of this book. However, with Image being our ‘can’t misfire’ publisher of 2014, I excitedly picked up our review copy and began poring through it.

First things first, this is not about a house party when the parents are away. Let’s get that settled straight out the bat.

And fundamentally, it’s genuinely impressive that but a single human (more or less) put this story together. It’s ambitious, there’s a solid (if bewildering) mystery at its core, and at no point does any particular part of it smack as underdone or amateurish.

Telling the story of a world that hs been poisoned – by who or what being the above-mentioned mystery – and the hunter Tanoor who has to try and scrape together enough food for her village. Given the state of the land, this is proving somewhat difficult. Then there’s the fact that a strange, elfin woman named Lila has washed up on the banks of the river that their village is settled on; with who she is and where she comes from hinted at throughout.

It just doesn’t come together in a particularly interesting way – distinctly less than the sum of its parts, and some of its parts are, honestly, a little worse for wear.

The dialogue has an awkward lilt to it, almost as if Google Translate has taken what might well be ostensible wisdom in some foreign tongue, but doesn’t hold up particularly well when transliterated into English.

The strangest part of the proceedings, however, is the art. Hatching for the sake of hatching abounds, and whilst the action is fine, it’s sometimes just a little overwrought, with rather puzzling logistics. Quite how Tanoor functions with those giant blades strapped to her arms is another of the book’s great mysteries.

Elsewhere, the anatomy is strange and it’s unclear whether it’s just inconsistently proportioned, or the result of a rather odd design choice that languishes in the realms of the unexplained. There are some nice ideas in the character design – gangly limbs aside – but perhaps the only aspect that does properly stand out is the colour work, successfully contrasting the vibrant alien world from which Lila heralds with the bleak, wind-blown deserts of Tanoor and company’s personal apocalypse.

It’s odd, because Robinson’s other work is, quite simply, better than this, and it’s disappointing that this isn’t up to his usual standard.

The problem is that given that it’s set on another world, it’s not clear at all whether any of the awkwardness that results from these is deliberate, and Robinson certainly doesn’t make any concessions towards explaining this. It could well be an attempt to create a sense of otherworldliness, but if it is, it has stumbled at this first hurdle. There’s quite possibly an intriguing story waiting to be told here if it pulls together in subsequent issue; but what we have here is a relatively lifeless book that is difficult to really recommend.

Rating: 2/5.

RSavThe Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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