Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Artist: Owen Gieni
Warning: This new creator-owned series from Dark Horse will rip a hole in your stomach, fill it with fire ants, and pour a little salt in the mix. You know, just for fun.
Ryan K. Lindsay and Owen Gieni bring us a brand new series, which I'm pretty sure is the equivalent of an anti-prescription for depression. Down and out writer Guy, our leading man, doesn't have a lot going for him. So when you find out that his current failure is his inability to write his own suicide note, you know you've pretty much signed up for a story where it's about to get real. Surprising no one (because you know, alien on the cover) this issue takes a turn for the unreal when a sinister corporation (think The Cabin in the Woods), which may not actually be super evil, preys on Guy for his emotion in a battle against an alien race hellbent on Earth's destruction.
I want to take a moment to applaud this first issue for taking a pretty serious subject matter and not just using it as a plot device. Even though emotion, anxiety, and depression are central to the development of the story, their treatment feels neither trite nor trivial. Lindsay and Gieni have clearly put a lot of thought into how best to present Guy and his story, and the creators avoid common tropes. Instead, we are presented with a character, who at probably the worst period of his life, has the potential to save the world. The impetus isn't on curing his depression, but rather on making sure Guy is at peace with himself -- his interactions with Woody (Guy's food truck bff who may be more than meets the eye )show that much. Lindsay and Gieni have something special going on here; the kind of something that makes it unclear who to root for. On one hand, you have this likable character who you want to see happy, but on the other, the potential mega-death of the Earth. What makes this decision a little easier, though, is Gieni's fine, painted-style art. What could easily be a whiny woe-is-me character is brought to life by his flowing lines and intense emotion work (note: Guy never actually plays the world's tiniest violin for himself, but things could have gone there). The world itself is vivid and full of imagination, but Gieni doesn't get carried away. Action is never lost in busy backgrounds, but this also isn't accomplished at the cost of attention to detail. Coupled with Lindsay's straight-forward and unfluffed writing, this first issue's fantastical story line is easy to follow. The dialogue between the characters fleshes out the world appropriately, and Guy becomes intimately relatable.
With the upswing of comics, it's easy to become fatigued by the onslaught of new series. But for those of you who enjoy something thought-provoking and filled with action and a little creepy imagery, I wouldn't miss this one. While sometimes the writing may still be in the "finding its footing" stage, it's mostly solid. The story really takes off when the art is allowed to speak for itself, and the quiet moments in this issue are really some of the best. For a first issue, the pacing was on point, though the ending was slightly abrupt. All's well that end's well though, and this is one book that ends with a big ol' bang. With a side of alien spit. If that's your thing (and also if you like good comics), be sure to check this book when it hits shelves July 8th.