by Rick Remender (Writer), Wes Craig (Artist), Lee Loughridge (Colorist)

The Story: Living on the street kind of sucks, but being put in a rather nebulous situations with killers and cops is somewhat worse.

The Review: It’s been a really bright period of time for Image lately. With a few high-profile creators publishing their work through them, they have gained a reputation for being the place to be for many writers and artists, much to the readers delight. For those who want something new and decidedly different, it’s really a golden age of opportunities as the likes of East of West, Saga, Black Science, Lazarus, Sex Criminals and a multitude of others are still on the shelves for people to enjoy.

It’s with these kind of thoughts that I went on to buy this new series by Fear Agent and Uncanny X-Force writer Rick Remender and one of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s many artist, Wes Craig. With a certain pedigree from both creators, there was definitely something about this that I had to try. However, a nice creative team does not necessarily equate to an interesting book, as there needs to be a message, a direction and certainly a hook for readers to return for the inevitable second issue. How does this first issue manage, though?

As the opening to a series, it’s fairly solid, with a bit of a drag as far as its premise and ideas are concerned. There is a solid amount of action and a general depth to the setting that helps situate the themes and the tone of the story very well, with a certain weird vibe that brings the characters and many of the quirks fairly well on the page. The actual hook is mainly delivered in the final pages, though, so the actual feeling of the series might not actually be representative of what is shown here.

What is shown, however, is rather interesting and sincere in its general depiction of despair and disbelief, as the situation in which Marcus is gets told in a surprisingly realistic manner. Showing just how tough and rather oppressing the life of a person living in the streets can be, the narration of Marcus retains a certain melancholy as well as a certain amount of sarcasm and humor, presenting his character very well throughout the whole tale, with him having abandoned a certain notion of happiness a while ago. Telling us his general life story and his case of bad luck concisely, Remender is able to make us sympathize with him, but also make a good case for the weirdness that happens in the second half of the book, contrasting it sharply to the character presentation in the first half.

The action is also very good here, which is something that Remender is usually very comfortable with writing. Still presenting things through the point-of-view of Marcus, the hyper violence and generally insane acts of acrobatics are rightly put with a presentation of awe and disbelief, which allows them to have the impact they need to have for the story to progress with the right tone.

However, as much as the story and characters are rightfully interesting, the main selling point here is the art, with Wes Craig being an absolute beast of an artist, conquering expectations with a thoroughly dynamic pacing and a real intention to impress readers with his insane energy. The panel layout is inventive, with a focus on diagonal panels during the action scenes to simulate speed and urgency, or with a very well thought-out panel to panel flow that allows for a fluidity in the sequential storytelling department. With a switch in style in some pages, there are some very striking moments with differences that makes them instantly memorable, such as the way the art gets a tad more childish in appearance, with less-defined details, when the story focus on the early childhood of Marcus. However, to correspond with the script, the emotions conveyed are very well done, with a rather impressive range of emotions considering the minimalism with the faces, with not a lot of details to work with. Wes Craig, in a way, is one of the better aspects of this book.

Another great aspect is Lee Loughridge and his colorization, with each pages and a good number of pages dedicated to a very basic color that allows the other details to stand out. Green, red, yellow and blue of all shades and types are all represented here, with black, white, grey and a good lot other duller and little warm colors are brought to contrast in a seamless fashion, with a good sense of color progression and cohesion in the book as a whole. Playing it very well with the dynamic storytelling of Craig, Loughridge makes the colors stand out most of the time, with warm colors indicating hostility and violence easily throughout the book and colder colors calmer and despair-filled moments. The color book is a bit invasive, yet it fits very well with the tone of the book in general, making the work of Lee Loughridge very impressive in general here.

The Conclusion: While the presentation of its characters, themes and setting is very well done, it’s really the art and colorization that makes this issue a very worthwhile read. A thoroughly great issue, yet as a presentation of its concepts, it could have done a bit more.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière