Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by: John Timms, Bill Tortolini and David Curiel
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 2, 2016
Publisher: 1First Comics
I am a huge Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin gray fan, so it upset me when this book slipped by me weeks ago. Sure, we are pretty much an all DC Comics site, but I try to stay in the know and this sort of thing is why. I guess I was a big dummy at the beginning of March, or at least blind. We can agree, I was probably both. While I am never going to change my IQ for the better (believe me, I've tried), I finally opened my eyes and saw the awesome Amanda Conner cover for this book as well as three of my favorite creators (John Timms being the third) printed right there in bold letters. So, it shouldn't be any bit of a surprise that I would grab the opportunity that Just for the Hell of it Monday presents and review this #1 issue.
The issue opens up with a rundown of the world we are about to jump into and it does not paint a pretty picture. The big question is, "If we erase our memories, do we erase ourselves in the process?" Now that's some deep shit, but before you can even wrap your head around that, Palmiotti and Gray throw you headfirst into a world of conspiracy, violence, tech and mystery.
The first thing you are going to notice as the story starts is how good everything looks. I mentioned above that Palmiotti and Gray are not painting a pretty picture with this world, but god damn it, John Timms is. If you have been reading the Harley Quinn book (and from the numbers, who hasn't?!?) then that's no shock, but seeing his art in a dark future somehow makes it stick out even more.
The story itself starts with a cold open (and yes, that is kind of a pun) where we are introduced to the main characters, Uri, Yalena and their daughter, Kalina, going about their day. I don't know what a "typical" day is for them, but from the dialogue, they are in a bit of trouble. Palmiotti and Gray are not going to hold any hands here, so it's up to the reader to figure stuff out, but they do a great job of laying out a trail of crumbs to follow, though it's unclear where it all leads.
After bumping into a hulk of a man, Spencer, the three head to their apartment and it's obvious that they are up to some underhanded shit, but also that it's all for the good of their family. Whatever is going on, the jig is up and the family goes into defensive/escape/what the hell is going on mode and we get some important info...Kalina is deaf, there is some crazy tech in this world and they have pissed off a very important person.
The next bunch of pages are action movie coolness...gun shots, explosion, more gunshots...it's pure chaos, but the progression of story and art make it easy to follow. It ends with Kalina escaping with Spencer, who has promised her mother that he would look after her. After what just happened, that is one hell of a promise and obviously, the gist of the book going forward.
The rest of the issue is world building and setup where we are introduced to the FRD, the Forensic Recall Division, and learn more about Spencer. The FRD is setup as the usual baddies...they scan and wipe memories in the name of justice...you know, Big Brother types. However, as the story progresses we see that this book is going to deal with a whole lot of grey areas and one of them is going to be the FRD and it's Detective Drexler.
Through the Detective we learn that Spencer is the apartment building's janitor, he is retarded and he already seems like a more than meets the eye character. There is definitely something going on under the surface here, but for now he is protecting Kalina and barely succeeding. The issue ends with the promise that everyone and their evil uncle is going after the two refuges and I'm already invested in seeing them get away as well as learning more about...everything.
Palmiotti and Gray really nail this first issue by giving the reader just enough information to get them up and running, but leaving so much to be figured out and discovered. I already have theories that I'm sure are wrong, but isn't that the case when you dive into any great mystery? Of course, all of this wouldn't matter if there isn't characters that are worth reading about and while this issue was more setup than character development, Palmiotti and Gray work some dark magic because I already have fallen for Kalina and Spencer and am also very intrigued by Detective Drexler. The only negatives I could think of while reading this are that it isn't a laid at your feet type of story, so if you are a reader that wants everything explained right off the bat, this issue will leave you frustrated. Also, while I think that Palmiotti and Gray are playing around with the conventions of dystopian futures and 1984 type stories, some will look at the "bad guys" as pretty generic, though I think the dialogue sets them above that right away.
I already mentioned John Timms' art and it is fantastic throughout. He does have a very animated feature type style and while that isn't the first thing you might think of when the subject of a tech driven future society comes up, it ends up working better than you would imagine. Bill Tortolini and David Curiel are also a big part of the outstanding look of this book, so I don't want to forget to mention them as well. Overall, this is one great looking book.
Bits and Pieces:
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and John Timms start off their near future, brain controlling, action movie mystery book off in style. I am intrigued to see where it is all going and am already invested in the main characters, Spencer and Kalina. Hey, it's pretty much Team Harley Quinn giving us a story that's a combination of The Last of Us, 1984, Minority Report and a whole bunch of other things I'm too stupid to know about. Highly Recommended.