by Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki & Morry Hollowell, published by Image Comics
I reviewed #1 a while ago and enjoyed it, I’ve been lucky enough to get the next three and I’ve really enjoyed them to.
The story follows three characters all playing the game Axcend. Eric, the chap from the first issue whose basically a bit crap but he tries, Rain who turns out to be a uber popular pop star, and Ruiz, a gay chap victimized by his school and father. There’s also a shady, behind the scenes organization trying to protect the world and bickering like children.
All the characters are given a solid foundation, their motivations are set up like dominoes that make a cool pattern as you watch them topple through the rest of the story. You can tell that’s where the creative team love to work, and I’d be willing to bet there’s a few demons being exorcised in those panels. There’s genuine satisfaction when Ruiz becomes Ruin, and like all good villains, you understand him, even sympathizes with him and you just want to clip him around the head and tell him to stop being a dick. Rain is a super confident attention seeker running from the fact that her fame won’t last forever, Eric is a teenager who wants to be Rain but his testicles haven’t dropped yet.
If there’s one problem with the writing it’s the pacing. In the action/Axcendian bits the gear needs to shift up a little and get a bit snappier, specifically the dialogue. It’s FAR from bad but I feel the writing team think if it lets the ideas go below 55 a page the comic will explode. Chill out and let the characters breathe a bit folks. Still it’s a better problem to have than three writers bereft of ideas…looking at you Harley and Power Girl #6.
The art is hard to describe without sounding like an inept wanker. “It’s really good” sounds sweet and using words like “fresh” and “dynamic” sounds twatie, but it’s frustratingly true, the arts really good, fresh and dynamic. The design and the consistency through book is remarkable, detailed but not over designed. There’s a clever use of colour to help make the realistic and fantastic feel separate and there’s one sequence were Ruiz flips out that feels inspired by Dave McKean’s art from Arkham Asylum, the tight close-ups on various uncomfortable paraphernalia really focuses the problems Ruiz goes through.
There’s a distinct manga atmosphere with a splash of nineties aesthetic, the good nineties of homage and innovation not the bad nineties of piss ‘n wind.
A cauldron of cool booze that may give you indigestion now and again but you don’t care and have another gob full.