Who Is Jake Ellis? #1
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Tonci Zonjic
Published by Image Comics
"No, it's more serious than that. They waited for the train to start so they would have you trapped. They were waiting for you." -- Jake Ellis
Having grown up loving the James Bond movies, my favorite being GoldenEye, and classic TV shows like The Saint and The Avengers, the spy genre holds a very special place in my life. Also, having said that, I went on a recommendation and jumped into Image's Who Is Jake Ellis?. With the opening scene actually being showed twice, you get a grip on what the story is dealing with, but at the same time you don't. Jon Moore barely escapes with his life after a deal with Spanish mob dealers goes sour. His one defense? A shadowy figure named Jake Ellis that only Jon can see and hear. The Al Calavicci to Jon's Sam Beckett.
From the start, Tonci Zonjic's (Marvel's Heralds) art leaps at you. The minimalist style reminds me of Chris Samnee, with flashes of Cliff Chiang. Heavy use of shading really captures the suspense and feel of the book. I kept on having flashbacks of Powers and Chase. Keep in mind that Zonjic is a one-man-band here, doing pencils, inks, colors, and the cover. In today's atmosphere that is becoming more and more uncommon.
Nathan Edmondson certainly sets the stage here, but for what? Is Moore a spy, or a crook? Why are the Americans after him? I suppose the big question should, of course, be who is Jake Ellis and what is his relationship with Moore? You feel as though you've walked right in the middle of a movie that's been going on for about thirty minutes, but the rest of it is so enjoyable, you really don't mind it. I'm sure that is the point, to build the mystery and fill in the blanks later. Works for me, because the first issue is properly executed.
This book isn't for anybody who likes their stories fully explained to where there is no story, but narration. I found it something interesting and rather unique. I'm not that too familiar with either writer or artist's full bibliography, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for this one. If you dug Archaia's The Killer or a fan of Jason Bourne, I would easily recommend this to you.
Starborn #2 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Lan Pitts): With the previous of this series setting the stage, this issue expands the world and gives you truly an idea of what kind of threat Benjamin Warner is now facing. On the run from creatures from the Hive. A civilization that Benjamin had thought he had created for a novel he was writing. As it turns out, his novel may be closer to fact than science fiction. Everything in his novel, the one that had been rejected on numerous occasions, is appearing before him. It is hinted on why that is, but I don't think Warner still gets it. His childhood friend is more than meets the eye as she unveils herself as his guardian and serves as the guide to the more alien scenarios and terminology. While it does sling a bit more information and out-of-this-world jargon at you, you can relate to Warner as he is just as lost and confused. The story is still coherent with Chris Roberson's direction, and the slow revealing of the mystery has great pacing. Khary Randolph is nothing short of amazing here. From layouts to use of shots, nothing is what I would call "mundane". There's a sense of energy and excitement pouring from every page. Mix in Mitch Gerad's colors and it's just stellar on the eyes. With Roberson, Randolph, and Gerad's stock on the rise, be sure to check this book out.
Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time #1.5 (Published by Dynamite; Review by Lan Pitts): As the resident Wheel of Time fan in these parts, I have to say, this series has been hit and miss, and sad to say mostly misses. While it has been a thrill to see characters I've been enjoying since my pre-teens leap on to the page, sometimes it just falls flat. I can't really blame Chuck Dixon, or the late Robert Jordan here. This issue was just a bit odd though. While it introduced the gleeman (read: bard) Thom and the peddler (read: traveling salesman and news bearer) that's basically it and while this issue takes place in between issues 1 and 2, it almost seems like it didn't need to be there at all. Props to Chase Conely for stepping up his game. His backgrounds look incredible and the extra bit of detail really sells the imagery. The only real complaint here is Nicolas Chapuis' colors. They go back and forth from being pretty good, to down right annoying. There are instances here where he does do a great job, but in the same page there will be a panel that is so over-saturated, it's just not pleasant. I'm sure the WoT fans out there are checking this out as I am, but I just wish it was a tad bit better.
Written by Josh Hales Fiaklov
Art by Rahsan Ekedal
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
True, it's only day three of the New Year, but I think I've read my first favorite issue of it. Echoes, not to be confused with Terry Moore's Echo, tells the story of Brian Cohn, diagnosed schizophrenic who makes the most out of life despite his condition. His father is dying and has had complications with Alzheimer's. On his death bed, Brian's father tells him a secret and what Brian finds is earth-shattering and disturbing. Of course the experience is even worse when our protagonist has missed a dose of his anti-psychotics.
Right off the bat you'll notice Rahsan Ekedal's almost watercolor/inkwashed pages. The decision to just go with grayscales enhances the mood and atmosphere the book is trying to convey. It reminded me of Hotel Dusk with it's noir approach, though Echoes has more of a horror edge.
Being the first issue out of a planned five issue series, there is a lot of set-up, I mean, this is primarily all there is here. However, the ending is the hook that will reel you in. Josh Hales Fiaklov has set this up where this could go in a multitude of directions. You can sense the paranoia and confusion going through Cohn's brain. The panel construction is dynamic that utilizes an interesting layout that gives the book the horror feel I mentioned early. With a comic, the wandering eye can spoil pages, but how this is set up, there is still a sense of danger and suspense lingering in the air.
Fiaklov excels at exploring the human brain and how it process such tragedy, even a confused one like Cohn's, which is easily the selling point on something like this. If you're looking for something new, give this a gander. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.