By: Michael Moreci & Steve Seeley (writers) & JM Ringuet (art)

Release Date: March 21, 2012

Spoiler-free Advance Review: This #0 issue collects material that appeared as a back-up story in Hack/Slash over the past 6-8 months and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  This first story follows a crew from a TV show called the Hoax Hunters as they investigate a mysterious American “astronaut” from the 1960’s who may or may not be reappearing in modern-day Russia.  So, right away this comic is in my wheelhouse.  I love (and can spend hours) reading websites about things like the Lost Cosmonauts or Bigfoot or Nazi moon bases or the Loch Ness Monster.  Of course, it’s impossible to know what future stories the creators want to fiddle around with, but judging from this comic, their promotional materials and interacting with Moreci on Twitter, I think they’re interested in those sorts of stories too.

So, the creators seem to be interested in cool stuff, but can they tell a story?

Well, this #0 issue shows that they can!  It does what a #0 issue needs to do: establish the characters and the premise for the story.  We meet our core team of 3 folks who are there to investigate the unknown.  There’s nothing too remarkable about the makeup of the team: big, shaved-head black guy + sexy geek-girl + cadaverous science guy.  We’ve seen teams like this before because they’re good for story telling and I’ll credit the creators for not trying to reinvent the wheel.  This team goes out to investigate this weird astronaut and gets more than they expected.  It has a nice pace and while the team seems VERY capable, they’re not so badass that they don’t struggle a little bit and that makes for drama.  So, the story and storytelling check out.

And, the art is pretty sweet too.  I couldn’t tell you who Ringuet reminds me of from an artistic standpoint, but he’s working in that slightly cartoony space where he has just enough realism to make the comic relatable while also giving his characters more room to act and emote.  He uses a very heavy and chunky looking line where it almost looks like he drew this with a charcoal pencil, and the rest of it is pretty brushy, I quite like it.  Very expressive and alive.  The panel layouts are pretty straight forward; as much as I love artists who go bananas with the panels, I also see a lot of artists who get ahead of themselves and do fussy layouts that don’t serve the story.  So, it’s nice to see pages with 5-6 panels on a page just focusing on storytelling.  Even the coloring is nice. It’s a nice palate and while I’m not usually a fan of rendered highlights, they work well in this issue.

Conclusion: I think we might have a winner here.  This looks like the kind of comic that’s going to appeal to lots of comic fans that enjoy conspiracy theories or cryptozoology.  There is so much gold to mine in that space and it looks like we have a good creative team to do it.

How to get it: It’s probably too late for a comic shop to pre-order the issue from Diamond, but you can check with your comic shop and have them set aside any issues they’ve ordered for the shelf.  Or you could be all modern about things and read it on a digital device where Image is doing same-day digital releases.

Grade: A-

-Dean Stell

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