Black Mask Studios 2015
Written by Matt Pizzolo
Illustrated by Amancay Nahuelpan
Coloured by Jean-Paul Csuka
I’ve been awaiting this series since I first heard of it. What we get is a very big first issue nearly eighty pages in length that really does allow the reader to get a chance to meet the characters involved in the series. What Matt is able to do with a larger introduction is not necessarily get the party started but delve into characters more instead.
We open with hell of a start too. With a father shot through the head to stealing the infant daughter so seeing her fifteen years later in a coffee shoppe targeting a man and then blowing the place up to take him out. So it begs the question was she kidnapped and raised to sacrifice herself for an as yet unnamed cause? Is there a network out there that kidnaps children and teaches them to fight, build bombs, speak foreign languages all for the purpose of using them as foot soldiers, expendable pawns so that they “make the world a better place?”
Then we’re off to what seems to be an elite prep school where a rather smart young woman Sera whose world we watch come crumbling down around her in a rather spectacular fashion. As a reader you can see what she goes through at school is clearly a setup and you get the impression she’s a victim whose being manipulated into something though we don’t know what. The response from the school and police however seems harsher than I would have expected as she’s clearly a top student. Granted we don’t know much about her life at that school or if she’s popular but still something seems off about the whole thing and this just makes you want to learn more about her, her life and what this is all about.
We are introduced to Christopher Johanssen who comes across as something of a raving madman full of conspiracy theory nut that the mainstream seems have tried to suppress and discredit but in his rantings he has the seeds of truth. It’s interesting to see and think that in this world full of social media and internet access that someone like him can exist and people don’t pay more attention to him after the powers that be have successfully labeled him a “nutter.”
Next we meet a young man called Cesar as he is hitching his way around the country and his story is being told. It’s pretty straight forward his parents come to America and got sent him and smuggled him back into the country alone. Something of an animal rights activist even at this young age he’s been receiving notes from someone all too aware of what he’s up to. What he has to do to earn a few bucks well yeah that’s interesting too and while part of me wishes we’d seen it happen what he buys well that says it all. His struggle at the truck stop, showers, gas the whole thing well it’s kind of well yeah uhm something I would’ve done had been able to at the time lol but seriously it’s kind of messed up.
As his story unfolds again what he does and how he does and how he’s treated it’s as if he’s being set up to become a young terrorist while all he wants to do is survive. Oh and how he gets out of this well that’s something to see. To be honest he’s naked a lot throughout this and we see one of the truckers naked and i’m a little surprised and disappointed that we don’t see any full frontal if it were a girl we’d probably see it all by now and I look forward to a time when that double standard goes away.
So then the story takes this kind of surreal underground fight club route that’s highly sexually charged. I mean it’s erotic and powerful and slightly arousing and there are no boundaries who who’s doing what with or next to whom.
The last part of the story brings Sera and Cesar together. It is one heck of an interesting conversation to be sure but I just get the feeling that Sera isn’t being as honest with her intentions with him though her assessment of where they are and how they survive well that’s pretty spectacular and incredibly well conceived. I like the idea behind where Sera lives and how it’s organized and how it came into being it’s something you wouldn’t think of immediately but can see the brilliance of it and how it could actually happen.
There’s something about the disenfranchised that sparks so much interest for the general public. Many can sympathize, empathize and see the struggle though fear the opposite side for the power they wield and the secret threats they make which we all know about. Who is right who is wrong and is there a medium balance where people can work together, which as long as both sides continue to wage their own secret wars that isn’t likely to happen.
Amancay and Jean-Paul’s work on the interiors is fantastic. There’s emotion, drama, expression and if you closely some great easter eggs throughout that really kind take you by surprise. My only real question is how Cesar’s mohawk goes from white to red (orange) on page 74 otherwise the attention to detail is stunning, the page and panel layouts are great and you really get a heavy emotional impact from what we see on the page.
This is interesting, different and highly addictive as it leaves you with so many questions that you want answered, ensuring your return, and delivering something that when it’s over you don’t even realize it’s that large of an issue and automatically you are craving more story.