Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Simon Roy, Daniel Bensen
Artwork: Artyom Trakhanov
Colours: Jason Wordie
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 7th October 2020
Collecting what is hopefully the first of many arcs, First Knife is a tour de force trade paperback packed with world building and relentless visuals. Having gone through a fair amount of hiccups like so many other series of late, and a name change notwithstanding, it’s great to see this making its way to the shelves.
Back when I got the chance to review some single issues, I commented on the abundance of other post-apocalyptic settings in the marketplace. Don’t for a second let this put you off, though. First Knife manages to both play into the familiar and hit you with the novel and unexpected, almost to the point of sensory overload. Little details and sharp writing add so much depth to what is on the face of it a simple story.
Arising from the wastes is a powerful bio-machine which threatens the status-quo of the existing populations as it ‘befriends’ a young slave. Rival forces gather at the behest of their gods to prevent a return of the calamity and devastation wrought previously on the world. It’s a hero’s journey but with far less formulaic steps and far more blurred lines. There are some of the expected tropes along the way, but the explored themes of tribalism and belief continue to be as relevant as ever.
Asides from the core story this trade also maintains the added supplementary material which serves to further explore this brave new world. The setting itself doesn’t exactly ease you in, so this wonderfully rounds out our exploration as if written by future archaeo-anthropologists. I appreciate that for some this is nothing more than some nice little extra art and prose but the gamer in me loves being able to immerse into a setting so much.
Speaking of immersion, putting aside the crafted word on display, Trakhanov and Wordie provide what I called a manic – and yet precise – styling which I’ve come to love. From bio-mechanical warriors devouring cadavers to tribal slavers and vast expansive landscapes, there’s always a lot going on. For some, the lines and overall look might be a tougher sell than a more traditionalist approach, but the overall effect for me fits perfectly. Otsmane-Elhaou remains on form throughout, whether aiding the smooth delivery of dialogue or helping to ramp up the tempo.
Overall, this is a cracking book and definitely worth the price of admission. I jumped onto the single issues late but thought that this review of the entire arc might actually have been beneficial to keeping track of all that was going on. If you’ve been following the release of First Knife (as it’s now known) then you’ll no doubt already be eyeing up this trade. For everyone else, this is a clever, and at times poignant, book which definitely will have you back for second and third reads.
You can read the first issue of First Knife absolutely free by CLICKING HERE.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster