Advance Review – No. 1 With A Bullet #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artwork: Jorge Corona, Jen Hickman (colours)
Release Date: 1st November 2017

The iRiS Shutter Contact Lens is the latest word in “technological progress”.  Not only does it play video and actually augment the wearer’s reality, it also records footage of what they’re seeing.  Unfortunately for Nash Huang, social media darling and variety show success story, this leads to a shocking violation when her world is invaded and her personal life is laid bare for the world to see.  Oh, and there’s also the matter of her clingy super-fan and a rapidly spiraling body count, all of which seem to be tied to Nash in some way.

Writer Jacob Semahn exaggerates the intrusive reach of real-world technology just a little to allow the story behind this new series to really sink its teeth into the reader, but it’s fairly worrying just how little creative license he has to take in order for the sheer horror of the situation to reveal itself.

There’s obviously a pretty emphatic statement being made about the dangerously invasive nature of social media and technology here, but Semahn takes great care to ensure that their series never feels like a lecture.  Instead, he focus on the drama and the character of the situation, looking at this worrying version of the future (present?) through a prism of obsessed fans, mysterious suicides and shocking reveals.

Nash is a great character to hang the story on, and the interactions between her and her girlfriend Violent feel natural and endearing, giving her a much-needed gooey centre to wrap her weary sarcasm and self-indulgent social media obsession around.  She also gets called out pretty bluntly midway through the issue for victim blaming, claiming that “if you don’t want your shit out there, don’t make it easy for people to take advantage”, and that one line seems destined to be one of the main sentiments that this entire series is going to hinge on.

In theory, Jorge Corona’s artistic style would seem like an odd fit for a tense social media thriller, but the award-winning artist makes it work here, giving everything a slightly exaggerated, almost grotesque appearance while still retaining his distinctly expressive style.  This is never more apparent than during one particularly memorable moment early in the issue where Nash demonstrates the iRiS Shutter Contact Lens, a scene which perfectly sums up the predatory, almost tribal nature of media consumers.

Corona is assisted admirably by the colours of Jen Hickman, and the pair combine to provide a visually striking aesthetic throughout the course of this issue.  Bold and striking without becoming garish, the colours ebb and flow with the tone of the story, shifting from a relaxed, realistic palette during the scenes with Nash and Violent to jarring reds and blues during the shocking suicide sequence near the end.

The cliff-hanger, while heavily telegraphed, definitely hits home as a result of the work both Semahn and Corona have done to help establish Nash throughout the preceding twenty-one pages.  She’s not necessarily the most likeable person in the world, but there’s something inherently relatable about her, and it’s going to be interesting to see how her seemingly unflappable façade holds up to the horrific intrusion and social media judgment to come.

Ultimately, No. 1 With A Bullet boasts a fascinating and legitimately worrying core concept surrounded by genuinely intriguing characters and a slick, eye-catching artistic style.  And if that’s not enough to make you want to give this new series a try, then honestly, I’m really not sure what to tell ya.

Rating: 4/5.

If you want to find out more about NO. 1 WITH A BULLET, make sure to check out our interview with both members of the creative team by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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