Brass Sun #1 is a milestone issue for several reasons. Not only is the comic the first part of a six issue miniseries by Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard, it's also publisher 2000AD's first attempt at releasing a multipart story in the "floppy" format favored by most American publishers. The British publisher previously experienced success with the "single issue" format with the Dredd: Underbelly one-shot that acted as a sequel to the 2012 Dredd movie, and I'm glad that they've expanded their single issue distribution plans even further. With a fascinating concept, beautiful artwork and colors that pop off the page, Brass Sun #1 is a must read and one of 2014's best comics so far.
Brass Sun follows Wren, a young girl living on one of the planets in the Orrery, a clockwork solar system that rotates a sun made up of golden cogs. As ice consumes their world, Wren's grandfather sets her on a path to discover why the Orrery is malfunctioning, placing her in opposition to the religious Orthodoxy that worships the clockwork that runs their galaxy. This is high science fiction at its finest, the Orrery is a world complex enough for readers to ponder about for days, but simple enough to understand while reading through the comic for the first time. I was impressed with how effortlessly Edginton introduced so many plot elements in the opening pages. Religious strife, dying worlds, and complex steampunk-esque ideas are all smoothly pushed in front of the reader in the first few pages, before Edginton introduces the protagonist. I do feel that Wren's characterization took a back seat to all the exposition and action at times, but Edginton fleshes her out enough to keep the reader rooting for her.
I.N.J. Culbard's artwork is the true star of Brass Sun. While I was familiar with his past work on New Deadwardians, a Vertigo series he created along with writer Dan Abnett, his work in Brass Sun is stunning and worthy of award consideration. Culbard's artwork brings the Orrery alive and captures the massive scope of the book, while adding complex emotion to all the characters in his book. From the arrogance of the villainous Archimandrite to the heartbreak and defiance of Wren and her grandfather, Culbard turns the characters of Brass Sun into real feeling filled people. I also liked how, despite the fast moving plot and vast splash pages, the comic was easy to follow. Culbard's layouts lead the reader from panel to panel, keeping them focused on the action instead of superfluous details. Culbard's artwork is complimented perfectly by his bold coloring, adding even more mood and emotion to each panel.
From its gorgeous front cover to its last page, Brass Sun #1 is a fantastic first chapter of a captivating and engaging comic. If 2000AD has other stories of this caliber in their catalog, I think they'll experienced continued success in the monthly comic market. This is a beautiful and captivating comic book, and one that should garner plenty of attention in "Best of" articles at the end of the year.