I love Matt Kindt. I read his newest comic, Ether #1, with a huge smile on my face. I entered the first page having no idea what the story was about or what I was getting myself into and enjoyed it all the more for approaching it in such a way. I’m incredibly wary of giving away too much so that anyone who wants to read this book will have the same joy in experiencing it as I had. So instead, I will write about my reactions to the book and how it compares to Kindt’s more recent work.
The main character is Boone; he’s a scientist driven by curiosity and the discovery of facts. Ether continues with Kindt’s specific storytelling voice that I first came into contact with in Mind MGMT, in which the story continues outside of the boundaries of the panels and words bubbles. It’s almost like reading something that is transmedia, but all gathered into the book. A lot of this is to simply bring the world to more vivid life. In his other currently running book, Dept.H, which I highly recommend, he uses these elements to highlight character traits or to explain some kind of odd science or the workings of an unknown creature to the reader. In Ether he shifts the tone by about 75%. Mind MGMT and Dept.H are mostly serious pieces of work. Ether is 100% cheeky, until it’s not.
David Rubin’s artwork adds volumes in creating this shift of tone and emotion. He brings panels full of life and rich color, like walking through a bazaar or seeing a flower blossom. Using rounded edges and a very loose feel, he creates a sense of enjoyment that, no matter how bad things may get, will still be wacky. Then, he slaps that in the face. It takes a moment to process the transition and a few panels to effectively understand what’s happening, but as it sinks in you sink with Boone…
Boone is a scientist who visits a magical world; he’s visited it 1,200 times. The creatures are strange, and the world is absurd. It is full of so much magic that the denizens have no idea how to use logic to solve puzzles and crimes. In this first issue, Boone is asked to solve a murder. That’s not the deeper mystery, which comes in the last 20% of the book. So now, Kindt has created the mystery of the murder and the mystery of Boone. And I can’t wait for Issue #2.