If you want to know a man, listen to his enemies.
Of course, if you listen to those who oppose the Headtaker, you ought to be ready for many screams. Though it might shock you to learn it, our central figure’s job is to remove a certain thinking appendage from “criminals'” bodies. Capital punishment is certainly a subject of ongoing debate in the world, especially in our little corner of it as of late, but this book isn’t asking you to take a side in it. Rather, the role of antagonist/protagonist seem to be blurred a bit, and what results is a story that – told many other ways – might feel rote or get lost in the shuffle. This book is primarily about badassery, and though there are other excellent themes running throughout the issue, it still manages to turn typical story hooks on their sides and comes at us from angles we don’t expect.
Good and evil seem pretty well established early on in writer Rich Douek’s script, with a familiar dynamic of a powerful and unrelenting empire being opposed by some scrappy rebels. The lines seem so well defined that it feels like there may be something more to this story that’s just waiting to break in the second issue, especially with how this first one ends. The drive and care that have been taken with this tale are evident throughout, with the pacing being near perfect – pushing us as readers through adrenaline-pumping action and giving way to moments of stillness so profound that you’re caught off guard when one becomes a visual gag that had me laughing out loud. I love the confidence that Douek shows with his willingness to introduce such quiet moments into a book that would seem to thrive on keeping things moving; it belies a deftness of story crafting that you don’t always see in comics like this. It’s refreshing to see someone take such care and ownership over the story in what could have simply been another Star Wars clone, with a lovely little Predator quote tossed in for good measure. It makes for an exciting and gripping read.
I think that Joe Mulvey’s character designs are top notch, and he really creates a diverse and living world. (Well, if you just focus on those that stay living.) The action is fun and over the top, matching the script and swelling the ridiculous nature of the story. The panels themselves display a dynamic touch to the art that pulls the reader along as well as the script does. As for storytelling, if you emptied every text bubble, you’d still have no trouble in following along, which is always great to see. Color, framing, and atmospheric elements bring the world to life, giving us a truly remarkable sense of depth and scale.
This book is simply fun, but the amount of work that went into making it that way elevates it in ways that can be enjoyed by every type of reader. I love that we spend as much time with the “rebels” as we do with our implied protagonist; it provides a good counterbalance to leaving the masked man’s identity a secret. We as readers still get that solid world building while getting to be enticed by the mystery of what should realistically be the character we know most about.
The slow drip kills me, but it also keeps me excited to see where the story could possibly go next. Make sure to check it out this Wednesday at your local shop or at the link below.
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Creative Team: Rich Douek (Writer), Joe Mulvey (Artist), Chris Sotomayor, Jules Rivera (Colorists), Taylor Esposito (letterer)
Publisher: Comix Tribe
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