Created, Written and Lettered By: Jamie Me
Artwork: Toni Doya
Colours: Sean Callahan
A boy named Ajay and a girl named Natalie meet in a fairly awkward fashion in the toilet of a Leeds nightclub. They quickly hit it off, one thing leads to another, and before they know what’s happening they’re back at Natalie’s apartment getting to know each other a little better. However, midway through doing the deed, Ajay starts to hallucinate, panics, and ends up falling off her balcony to his… death? Well, no. Not quite. Y’see, Ajay is actually masked superhero “Jump”, and while he survives the fall unscathed, he does end up revealing his identity by stumbling around naked, becoming a public laughing stock and social media pariah in the process.
As setups go, the first issue of Jamie Me and Toni Doya’s Start Again sets out its stall confidently here. It’s a superhero story without actually being superhero story, with Ajay’s dilemma taking the focus and his masked exploits being reduced to background information on news reports and cruel social media posts. We get to see how the tidal wave of online negativity and ridicule impacts even the strongest individual, which is a fairly relevant subject matter in the age of targeted harassment, doxing and vicious smear campaigns.
The supporting characters themselves are fairly one-dimensional for the time being, only really being defined by how they interact with Ajay, who is himself something of a closed book. As such, it’s the tone and narrative that carries the bulk of the weight here, although a final page cliffhanger promises to take things in an unexpected new direction and put a little more focus on Ajay and Natalie’s relationship (or potential lack thereof).
Toni Doya does a solid job with the artwork throughout, capturing the emotions of the characters well. As mentioned, this isn’t really a superhero comic, and as such there isn’t much in the way of action, with the exception of the aforementioned fall. That said, Doya does a great job of keeping things interesting throughout, and use of social media excerpts in certain panels to hammer home Ajay’s situation is a really effective visual device. Sean Callahan’s colours are appropriate for the style of the story, giving depth and mood to the pages and keeping things fairly grounded for the most part.
Rather than deconstructing the superhero genre as a lot of writers attempt to do, Jamie Me is happy to reframe it just a little, putting our hero’s secret identity through the wringer and showing the psychological scars that can be caused by becoming an online laughing stock. I’m not sure if the final page is going to take this in a direction I’m necessarily going to like, but I’m definitely invested in finding out what happens next, and I can’t get my hands on issue #2 quickly enough.