Review – Namesake #1 (of 4) (BOOM! Studios)

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Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Jakub Rebelka
Release Date: 9th November 2016

Jordon Molossus has a lot of anger. Abandoned as a child by both fathers (one from Earth, one from Ektae) without explanation, he is carrying a lot of resentment. His short fuse can get him in trouble, too. It certainly did during the last Ektae Blessing, a seven-day festival that happens every seven years. During the time of the Blessing, the dimensions of Earth and Ektae converge for seven days allowing passage between worlds. At the last Blessing Jordon crossed Ferrier, a gang lord that owns his local portal between worlds. Now, seven years later Jordon needs to cross Ferrier’s portal to Ektae and bury his father’s ashes. Only then will he learn the full story of what happened to both his Fathers, and by extension who he comes from.

Honestly though, that summary doesn’t even scratch the surface of this story. I’d need several paragraphs to try and explain what goes on, and I’m not sure I could do it justice. Namesake is the only creator owned piece by Steve Orlando this year, and it’s pretty full on. Perhaps an assault on the senses would be a fair description, except that suggests a bad thing. Namesake is, in fact, quite the contrary. Yes there is a lot going on, but it’s a four issue run and there is much to cover. Depending on the execution, this type of approach can sometimes make or break a short run story. Overload the reader with too much and they will switch off as the experience switches from being a pleasure to a chore. While Namesake does merit a couple of read-throughs before every nuance settles, it’s not a burden to do so. If anything it’s a case of feeling that you’re willing to drink in this story many times, it’s that rich. It is a Steve Orlando story, a creator that has a talent for that minor, unexpected twist of the medium. He can flip your perception of a story just so to create something unexpected and fresh.

Coupled with Steve’s quite complete script is the art of Jakub Rebelka. I have to admit I don’t know Jakub, or his art, so I was going into this experience fresh. I only knew that Steve drew on the influence of the Final Fantasy games and this is clear in Jakub’s art. His interpretation of the brief is fantastic. I’ll admit, at first I was a bit ‘whoa, this may be too much,’ but the more I read, and the more I examined the panels, the more my appreciation grew.

The panel layout is simple, linear and easy to read with thick, defined line work. There is still enough room for detail within these big lines and there is an organic yet rigid feel to the work. The colour palette is luminous and you may think it too garish at first, but let it settle on you, I promise you it’s worth it. When I think of Final Fantasy I immediately summon images of Yoshitaka Amano’s art. Those wonderful and epic watercolours, detailed in the foreground with wonderful blurred backgrounds. While Rebelka’s Namesake art is in felt-like colours, he has employed this use of imagery. Blurring the foreground or background gives a sense of depth in the panels, and I’d like to think this is in deference to Amano’s style. Perhaps the FF fanboy in me is just reading too much into it.

Regardless, Namesake is a thoroughly interesting read. While I wasn’t at all sure at the start of the story, by the middle of the issue I knew the creators were onto something special here. The premise is wild and interesting, more so through Steve’s presentation, and the art fits the themes of the script completely. Any comic that has me vocalise “I enjoyed that read,” on putting it down is a winner in my book. Especially when a couple of pages in I’m expecting my opinion of the piece to be less than favourable. It’s not too often I do a complete 180 after a few pages, but I’m happy to admit that for Namesake, I did just that.

Rating: 4/5.

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13043453_10154167818863408_9180033184388957427_nThe writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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