Writer: Michael Benedetto
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Release Date: 26th August, 2015
Nicolas Winding Refn’s movie adaptation of James Sallis’ novel Drive has quickly become iconic, most notably for an intense performance by Ryan Gosling, a deeply cool score, and some sublime art direction. Given how much the success of the movie owed to visuals and tone it seems like the jump to the medium of comics would be easily performed. Unfortunately, while The Driver pulls off his driving duties absolutely perfectly every time, Drive #1 doesn’t manage quite as flawless a delivery.
The comic is obviously an adaptation of the book, rather than the movie, so the following gripes really only apply if you uphold the movie’s characterisation of Driver as a bastion of perfection. Where Gosling’s Driver was quiet to the point of appearing dead in some scenes, here The Driver is much chattier, especially to the reader, who is treated to an interior narration which really allows us inside the head of the character. While this character examination answers many questions about The Driver’s motivations it unfortunately leaves this reviewer a little cold to the character. In the movie Driver seemed like a psychopatht on the edge of control, trying to live a good life and use his skills as bloodlessly as possible. Here his internal monologue exposes that he simply believes LA to be so crime-infested it’s better to act mercilessly to get what you need to survive. This monologue reads more like Dwight McCarthy from Sin City than a tortured soul.
The art is also a mixed bag. The colouring is beautiful, evoking Miami Vice, Hotline Miami and Vice City. Speaking of Vice City, the character art reminds me of the loading screen art from Grand Theft Auto III, and the rough style with heavy outlines and blocky shading definitely evokes the feeling of a dirty place close to violence.
Unfortunately it is in the title action, driving, where the art falls very flat. During a criminally-short one-page chase scene at the end of the book I had to go back a page to see what was happening. Without an establishing shot of the chase vehicle actually beginning pursuit it just appears that Driver is driving needlessly erratically. Since we never see the chase really begin we are robbed of the feeling that the job went south, as it appears their pursuers were never really a threat. The art in this sequence is flat and lacks motion, with cars looking like stickers stuck upon a picture of a road.
Drive #1 is unfortunately not as slick and polished as its celluloid namesake. Character introspection is welcomed for such a blank-slate character, but gives the impression of someone I don’t want to root for, but hey, maybe I shouldn’t.
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The Writer of this piece was: Andrew Stevens
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