Joshua Hale Fialkov will always have a place in my heart. Being responsible for writing one of the canceled darlings of the Nu52, I, Vampire, I have been a fan of his work ever since. I can safely say that he and Gabo have created something that will be as fun and absurd as it is heart-tugging.
Fialkov introduces us to a character named...well...actually, you don't know who the person is but you do know they live a very painfully dull life. In a wonderful 20-panel spread, we see the monotonous life of our protagonist, which to me, is all too familiar. This helps to push the story forward at a very great pace and with the reveal of where he is, what time, and who else is there you can't help but get hooked.
Gabriel “Gabo” Bautista Jr.'s art is a nice quirky choice for this type of tale. What I have noticed with stories that deal with this subject matter is they tend to go gritty with it, almost scratchy in a way to really get that eerie feeling across; but Gabo is different. With a level detail comparable to Frank Quitely and Nick Pitarra, the art is relatively cartoony but it matches the absurdity of the story well.
The subject matter is where both shine in great unity. I think we all get into that lull in life, or eventually do for all our younger readers out there, where you start questioning your existence. What am I doing here? Why is this my routine? Is this living? Gabo and Fialkov make sweet music through their use of panels and dialogue. Gabo's facial expressions really convey a sense of dread as our main character begins to realize just where he is at...and at which point in his life.
There is some very dark material here. With the story of one of the characters you get a very brutal recap of her life and it was a tad bit hard to continue reading. Not because it was poorly written or the art was bad, the story it was telling was just intensely graphic. I'm not 100% sure whether or not we'll get that same type of intensity in the issues to follow, but considering why the main protagonist is there, I can only imagine.
I really like this type of story. Something that explores guilt and regret is always a type of tale that catches my attention. It is a rather heavy topic, isn't it? Thinking about what we leave behind after we die? Did we live our life fully? Was I happy? This comic really resonated with me. As a 25-year old with a couple years in the workforce, your mind tends to wander and contemplate about what I could be doing besides working for a corporation. It's both natural and frightening. I think Fialkov and Gabo have captured that feeling well.
I highly recommend this issue. This is easily one of the stronger debuts this year, rivaling The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Be sure to pick this up for an entertaining tale that I can tell will be even more intriguing in the issues to come.
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About the Author - Bryant Thomas
Bryant Thomas is far too over attached to his dog, Dexter. He talks to him. Confesses to him. But most of all, he reads comics to him. When Bryant isn't working for the energy industry, helping companies figure out what to buy to make them profitable, he reaches for a new trade or drools over all of the insane JH Williams art in Batwoman's early issues. Growing up in Texas has given Bryant a very complex palate to BBQ Sauces, ranch dressing, and the occasional whiskey. His free-time is filled with panels and panels, and even more panels as he writes reviews for the wonderful institution that is, The Outhouse.
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