Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Release Date: 12th September 2018
Michael Blackburn is Force Recon and he’s in trouble. He’s on the run from his captors, relying on a murderess he’s just sprung from the torture cell next to his, things are spiralling explosively (literally) out of control and he’s a long, long way from Maine.
I’ve really got to slow down on the amount of books I’m reviewing because frankly my bank balance can’t cope with the amount I’m purchasing as a result, but when I saw that Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer, Injection, Trees) and Jason Howard (The Astounding Wolf-Man, Super Dinosaur, Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark, Trees) were teaming up again to create a new comic series I told my wallet to suck it up and pull on a fresh pair of panties!
Warren Ellis is a massively prolific writer whose work I’ve had the pleasure of reading for over 20 years now, ever since my first issue of Transmetropolitan, and Jason Howard has been sitting on my shelf since I first picked up The Astounding Wolf-Man a little over 10 years ago. As a creative team they just have success after success so you can pretty much guarantee that we’re in for something special from the off.
When this project was being discussed, Jason Howard stated that he wanted to do an action comic and Ellis has given him a vehicle for this in spades. This issue opens with an interrogation, quite a leisurely, relaxed, almost friendly interrogation… and then everything goes completely bonkers and does not let up for the remainder of the issue, a state of affairs that Warren Ellis has promised will not let up until the end of the series. At the time of this review I believe that the entire series is complete so Mr. Ennis knows of what he speaks!
The pace of this story is dizzying, but at no point did I feel I was losing track of what was going on. The main character Michael Blackburn really clicked with me immediately, he’s very much the confident, capable wisecracking ‘80s action hero (I even got flashes of Roger Moore’s Bond and a bit of Doc Savage), but his professional training is completely thrown by the fact that he’s totally off balance and out of his comfort zone in a world he’s really not prepared for.
His partner in crime is Grace Moody of whom we know very little except she was locked in a cell for “murderous shit”. I get the impression that Grace isn’t ever going to be a damsel in distress, she’s going to be the murderous offspring of Ellen Ripley and Tank Girl and none of Michael Blackburn’s training or experience is going to be preparation for the ride she’s going to take him on.
I really liked Jason Howard’s artwork in this issue. Given that he’s dealing with the challenge of having to combine everything from 1920s military all the way to advanced future technology into the same world, at the same time, he has done a fantastic job of making it look seamless.
Howard also manages to convey dynamic action in a single panel brilliantly which is a really good thing because, with the exception of the first four pages, pretty much every single panel on every single page is bursting with action. Howard automatically wins points with me for using a rough gritty style to realise his world. I was raised on the comics of the eighties and never liked the more modern immaculate CGI renderings that have become prevalent. I will always have a real love for artwork that looks like skill and hard work has gone into bringing a world and characters to life.
I want to head into spoiler territory so badly but I really don’t want to spoil it for you, all I can say is that it went to places I wasn’t expecting very quickly and if I don’t get my hands on the second issue very soon I could end up doing something rash.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek