Review – No. 1 With A Bullet #2 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artwork: Jorge Corona, Jen Hickman (colours)
Release Date: 6th December2017

In the wake of the shocking development at the end of the first issue of Image Comics’ No. 1 With A Bullet, Jacob Semahn and Jorge Corona slow the pace right down here, allowing us to experience every excruciating, humiliating moment right alongside Nash Huang following the leaking of some deeply personal, and illegally obtained, footage.

It’s an intentionally uncomfortable look at the cruel, dehumanizing nature of online abuse, and watching Nash’s life gradually falling apart makes for a fairly upsetting read at times. We get to see her tough, unflappable façade rapidly crumbling away as the trolling, victim blaming and slut shaming gradually starts to take its toll, and the extra undercurrent of menace provided by her “number one fan” watching her from afar throughout it all makes for a gripping yet thoroughly unsettling read.

That said, while watching Nash having her life ripped apart serves as a powerful acknowledgment of the very real problems of internet bullying, cyberstalking and harassment, it’s how she deals with this adversity that’s going to determine whether this series is ultimately considered to be a success or a massively missed opportunity.

Semahn’s writing is undeniably well considered, taking a step back from the more fictional aspects of the story (the high-tech contact lenses and unnerving stalker) and focusing instead on the familiar, real-world toxicity of the online community.  However, while it’s fairly easy to rip a character to pieces and destroy everything they hold dear, it’s far trickier to put them back together and have them try come to terms with the adversity they’ve faced in a believable way.

Artist Jorge Corona continues to defy expectation here, providing an intense and emotionally charged aesthetic with what is still ostensibly a ‘cartoony’ style. His familiar caricaturised facial expressions and body types are still on display, but he delivers them with much more of an edge here, resulting into a shockingly effective look for the entire series.  He also does a fantastic job of conveying the emotion of his characters, particularly Nash herself, as can be evidenced from the very first page of this issue which features her staring, watery-eyed, trying to remain strong in spite of everything that’s going wrong.

Colourist Jen Hickman also deserves a huge amount of credit for her work here, perfectly differentiating different locations by giving them their own colour schemes, while also helping to underscore the horror of certain moments, such as the “fan” engaging in a little VR violation, all while bathed in cold blues and reds.

Ultimately then, while No 1 With A Bullet is far from a comfortable read, it’s still an impressively engaging one. And with the stalker storyline escalating in terrifying fashion at the end of the issue – an issue where we’re forced to watch Nash Huang’s life fall apart in excruciating detail – it’s clear that things are really going to kick into high gear as this remarkable story continues to unfold.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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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