As lockdown continues and with comics showing little sign of slowing down, I told myself recently that I wouldn’t be starting any new comic series. Well Gary Frank, your art has pulled me in once again and got me really keen to try Geiger, on sale this week from Image Comics.
The wallet-watching part of my brain said “wait for the trade paperback”, but the fanboy in me was screaming out for the project when I discovered it had both Geoff Johns and Gary Frank on it. Hold up, wait a minute, Brad Anderson? Is that you doing colours? Oh yes! Well, it looks like we have a full-on DC Doomsday Clock reunion, people.
Image, you officially have my attention.
For me, Doomsday Clock was one of the best series in recent history. Harmonising multiple stories and events (not to mention continuities), the creative team faced a big challenge and absolutely nailed it. But what happens when we take such talents and put them on a title that doesn’t have quite so much to manage? Let’s find out with their creator owned Geiger #1.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist, Cover Artist, Variant Cover Artist: Gary Frank
Colourist, Cover Artist, Variant Cover Artist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 7th April 2021
Set primarily in a post nuke-dropping future, we find ourselves facing another bleak timeline in comics. The populous have fled to their bunkers waiting for the world to be safe again. More relatable content, I suppose. In a radiation-infected wasteland, only the ultimate opportunists survive, with the exception of one mythical entity. Known to some as “the Glowing Man” or “Joe Glow”, but to us the reader as Geiger, he has become legend of the lifeless times.
The early pages of issue one are very much the origin story of Geiger. On the day the bombs fell, his family was divided and he made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure their safety. Each moment is ripe with parenting clichés, but sold so perfectly within the moment. What could you possibly say at a time like that? What words could you come up with? Taking commonly used phases parents use, but in this circumstance, perfectly balancing them with the obvious threat.
The dialog here isn’t as copy and paste as you might think, and is perfectly used as foreshadowing. While I called them parenting clichés, these snippets of dialogue are key to the backbone of the narrative. Do not go into issue 1 thinking this is just like every other disaster situation, because this is expertly plotted by Geoff Johns and those more familiar with his previously works should expect this.
The artwork by Frank and Anderson provides subtle storytelling precision with each and every panel. The use of a haunting glow effect really focuses the attention, managing to be simultaneously out of place yet still harmonised. Every person has a clear expression and a great use of colour sets them apart from each other and the surroundings, which is super helpful considering the desert tones which serve as the backdrop for many of the pages. We’re also treated to details like every segment on the watch (see above) being clear, and the pair pushing the extra mile texturing the skin. This is no rush-to-print job. This is a passion project and a flex of their considerable creative talents.
The story holds a very traditional three act structure. The first third is built with “who is this and why do I care?”. The second builds up state of the current world. The final eight or so pages are built into cementing the reader’s investment in buying the next few issues. This could have easily been split into three separate issues, but with the long-form storytelling pedigree of Geoff Johns partnered with Frank and Anderson’s detail-oriented work, slow and steady wins my money.
With the nature of the long-term storytelling, the team have really planted their seeds in the right places for maximum reader interest here. For those who buy comics for the spandex clad hero stories, this book tickles that itch with powers, responsibility and dramatic hero posing. For those who like a survival story, there are elements of Mad Max or Fallout. If, like me, you like good character-driven reads you have Geoff Johns. No matter what you look for in a comic, this series will scratch that itch.
With a future brighter than the story’s own, this is a big win for me and I’m sure many other readers.