Publisher: Z2 Comics
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Matt Battaglia
Release Date: 29nd June 2016
A ritualistic murder in Odessa, Texas. A seemingly compromised CIA asset being held in Mobile, Alabama. Whispers of a foreign combatant on US soil, preparing to enact a destructive master plan. Two troubled FBI agents trying to piece everything together. Death cults, serial killers and plenty of in-depth, thoughtful dialogue about subjects like the fragile nature of faith and the intoxicating power of self-belief and ideology. Yes, it’s fairly safe to say that INDOCTRINATION, on sale this June from Z2 Comics, is a “Michael Moreci joint” through and through, which means there was absolutely zero chance that I wasn’t going to be picking this one up.
When I named Michael Moreci my “BCP Writer of the Year” for 2015, it wasn’t because of his technical ability. Sure, the man has an impressively confident grasp of story structure, pacing and characterisation, but so do a lot of other writers. No, the real reason that Moreci impressed me so much last year with his work on titles like Roche Limit and Burning Fields was because of the combination of unbridled passion and cerebral philosophy present in all of his stories. While he may dress them up in the trappings of science fiction or supernatural horror, the fact remains that every single one of his stories has something worthwhile to say, an aspect which is most definitely the case here with INDOCTRINATION.
INDOCTRINATION is a living, breathing testament to the depth and intelligence of Moreci as a writer. Reminiscent of the likes of TRUE DETECTIVE in its slow burning, dialogue-heavy approach, this first issue doesn’t pander to the reader by giving away all the information up front, instead drip-feeding us with details and letting the story unfold gradually. Once again, this approach is classic Moreci, with absolutely nothing in the way of ‘hand holding’ as the different, seemingly disparate storyline threads gradually converge over the course of this first issue.
INDOCTRINATION taps into a fairly primal fear, particularly in this day and age where chilling news stories about terrorist organisations like ISIS are never far from our eyes. The fear that radicals who want nothing more to destroy our way of life are living among us, moving unseen in the shadows, gradually assimilating followers and preparing to make their move. The source of this fear isn’t supernatural or otherworldly (although there are vague hints to that effect), but are instead grounded in stark, terrifying reality, giving the events here an added layer of resonance.
Interestingly, while Moerci’s writing ability was pretty much a known quantity to me going into this series (to say the least), the aspect of this book which perhaps impressed me most was the truly masterful artwork of Matt Battaglia. While this serves as Battaglia’s first “proper” comic artist gig, he has been involved in the industry for quite some time, even serving as colourist on Moreci’s Roche Limit in the past. It’s doubly impressive then that his work here feels so confident and assured, with expressive characters and hypnotic, eye-catching panel layouts, not to mention his typically stellar colour work. I could wax lyrical about the visuals in this book for hours, but if you need proof of how great this book looks, all you need to do is cast your eyes over some of the preview artwork below.
Okay, so the fact that it’s such a dense, involving read is a bit of a double-edged sword, meaning that this series is unlikely to appeal to everyone. Those who like their pace a little quicker or their thrills a little more visceral are likely to go home disappointed, but for the more patient among us, there’s a truly fascinating journey just about to begin. It’s also worth noting that this is an issue which benefits from multiple read-throughs, not because it’s particularly difficult to follow, but because there’s so much beauty and nuance in both the storytelling and artwork, it’s all but guaranteed you’ll miss something first time around.
Once again, it’s worth clarifying that the style and approach isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, but for fans of slow-burning, intelligent drama that creeps under your skin, INDOCTRINATION is a fascinating, gripping series which comes highly, highly recommended.
You can find out more about the series on IndoctrinationComic.com, and you can pre-order the first issue from your local comic shop until the 28th of April using previews code APR162171.
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