Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by Van Jensen
Illustrated by Pete Woods
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
For time beyond memory, the Nine Families watched from the shadows, believing themselves shepherds and manipulating whole societies as they saw fit. Nothing happened that they didn’t observe or control. Outsiders knew naught of the Families, much less threatened them. Until now.
What I really enjoyed about this was we didn’t get any time spent on the past and how the nine families came into being. Yes there’s time for that down the road as the story dictates but for now we open with an event, or mission if you will, that aptly demonstrates what they are supposed to be about. As the the story unfolds we learn more and that’s the way it should be, a what the heck moment followed by a slow process of what the characters we see roles in all this is. It’s a highly effective way to start a new series, shrouded in mystery that leaves the reader with a desire to learn more.
The premise alone is enough to grab your attention but it’s Van’s writing and Pete’s illustrations that seal the deal. As a culture we have that innate love of conspiracy theory whether we admit it or not. If we didn’t shows like the X-Files wouldn’t remain as popular as they are today. So families around the world operating in secret shaping events, allowing or disallowing things to happen as they deem fit well it’s one of those that can both make the blood boil as well make for fascinating reading.
Add into the mix that while this is a shadow, behind the scenes, type of thing and there are nine families who’ve divvied up the world there will undoubtedly be jealousy and the desire for more power. Heck the characterization we get this issue gives us hints at that as well as the desire for power and rule within a family as well. So there’s plenty of I could do this better and should be in charge but the real question remains when one leader names a successor and it’s not whom is expected what will happen?
Science fiction, drama, action/adventure and intrigue are all given to us in the marvelous debut issue. This is the kind of writing and characterization that immediately draws a reader in and makes them wish it were bi-weekly. The kind of tease that people talk about and tell others to read simply because they want to discuss theories with others. This should be one of those you grab from the shelf first or get online and get from your subscription service and read first.
Pete’s interiors continue to show why he’s one of the industry’s top talents. The flow of the story through pages and panels, his use of perspective and angles and his attention to detail in all the characters we meet, see and even those with non-speaking roles really flesh out the book. His backgrounds are used effectively to really encompass the scope of the story filling in small details and bringing a sense of what’s possible we don’t see enough of. Never underestimate what backgrounds can do to enhance a story and Pete certainly knows this.
Stellar debut with potential to rival that of the Greek Gods in its scope. Full of lies, deceit and promise for a better future and great disaster it doesnt get any better than this.