Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Release Date: 17th June, 2015
OK, so Empty Zone is Cyberpunk – Supernatural – Science – Horror. It’s also 20 years in the making, having been conceived by Jason Alexander (Abe Sapien, The Escapists) years ago, and has now launched though Image after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It has even survived an early copyright dispute. Clearly Alexander is pouring heart and soul into this: How delicious does that sound?
If your answer is ‘very,’ then you really will not be complaining about this comic, I promise you. It’s also a bitch of a first issue to try and summarise, perhaps a good way to describe it so far is Neuromancer meets Reanimator, sort of? Hmm, here goes.
The central character is Corinne. When we meet her she is clearly having issues with bad memories that are affecting her sleep and is in the insomniac’s routine that consists of drugs, coffee, and alcohol. She also has a badass looking mech arm, kind of like Imperator Furiosa’s. She’s hired for a job via a contact – it’s a simple data transfer, the mark doesn’t even know he’s carrying the data so it should be simple enough, right? It always starts simple…
I’m not going to say anymore – hey, read it for yourself – you’ll not be disappointed. I can say that it’s an excellent introductory piece, there are a lot of building blocks of a story here, but the way the story is written it moves cleanly between subjects in a way that makes sense. So many times a first issue tries to throw a lot of information at you in the hope you bite, but all too often the data overload produces an underwhelmed reaction. Not here.
The clever thing about Empty Zone is that it teases out the introductory elements. The parts are small enough that you can absorb them and deduct what is going on before moving on with the story. This is done so subtly that it actually makes the issue seem longer than it is, which on turn really engages you as a reader and builds interest.
Not content with writing only, Alexander is also the artist (told you this was a passion piece), and the artwork is brilliant. It’s a mixture of the sharp, defined ink work, and large blacked out blocks that shape the backdrops to the characters, it reminds me of Simon Bisely’s work on Slaine and the ABC Warriors. The colour work by Luis Nct is fantastically understated, almost exclusively in shades of brown and blue it adds an almost ambient mood to the page that seem to flow under the prominent inks. The effect of this is an almost three dimension feel to the art, as well as helping to define the bleak atmosphere of this dystopian society. There is some absolutely beautiful airbrush work in ink and colour. Ralph Steadman would be proud.
If that isn’t convincing enough for you, I’m pretty sure there is a little homage to GERTY that has been sneaked in. That alone would be enough for me.
The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.