Review – EI8HT #1 (of 5) (Dark Horse Comics)

23589 - CopyPublisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Rafael Albuquerque, Mike Johnson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Release Date: 18th February, 2015

EI8HT marks the first creator-owned project from renowned American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque, and this first issue throws us right in at the deep end of a tale filled to the brim with intrigue and adventure. The story centres around Joshua, a Chrononaut who finds himself suffering from severe memory loss as he awakens in unfamiliar surroundings, frantically trying to piece the shattered fragments of his memory together – providing he can survive in the hostile environment for long enough.

Albuquerque keeps the pace brisk throughout this first issue, preventing things from ever slowing down and barely giving us a chance to catch our bearings before we’re launched headlong – alongside Joshua – into the next bizarre situation. Visually this is Albuquerque at his absolute finest, displaying the same ‘chaotic precision’ that has typified his stellar AmVam run. Joshua’s facial reactions are beautifully portrayed, and the characters he encounters are all rendered in the typically expressive ‘Albuquerque style’.

One of the main keys to this story most definitely has to be the colour work, with Rafael’s subtle use of four colours providing a narrative that instantly identifies whether we’re in the past, the present, the future or “the Meld” – the disorienting world in which Joshua awakes. It’s an inspired choice; an additional layer of storytelling that never overcrowds Albuquerque’s always impressive linework, and which serves as a roadmap of sorts that will undoubtedly help the reader navigate their way through the rest of this five-part story.

While EI8HT is undoubtedly epic in scope, it still remains firmly grounded in the personal mystery of a man trying to understanding his surroundings. Albuquerque does a stunning job of throwing us right into the very same fog of confusion that Joshua is experiencing, drip-feeding us details about the bigger picture and gradually pulling back the curtain to give us a better idea about just what the heck is going on. However, for the entirety of this first issue we’re never really allowed to get a firm grasp on what’s happening, something that could potentially be viewed as frustrating, but – when handled as skilfully as it is here – only serves to deepen the level of investment in this character and the mystery.

Crackling with originality and adventure, EI8HT is a stunning creator-owned debut from one of the most celebrated artists in the business today. A masterpiece of visual storytelling with a genuinely compelling mystery at its heart, this is a series I honestly can’t recommend highly enough. Bring on the second issue, and quickly!

Rating: 5/5.

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576682_510764502303144_947146289_nThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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