REVIEW: Hadrian’s Wall #1 (of 8)

This stylish future-noir mini series from Image Comics, starts with a bang before settling into set up territory, with an eye on 70’s or 80’s sci-fi.

Whilst on a space walk a man is apparently shot,  damaging his spacesuit causing decompression and death.  In space, no one can hear you suffocate.  The man works on the space vessel, Hadrian’s Wall out looking for resources, with a multi national crew including a member from the troublesome Theta colony.  Simon, a private detective, is asked to “rubber stamp” the following investigation, regardless of the fact that he was shot four times by the victim, who also married Simon’s ex-wife.  On top of that, Simon lives his life on a bottle a week addiction to pills.  All in all, you have the ingredients for quite a little pot boiler mystery.  In space, no one can hear you deduce.

Writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel re-unite to create this “whodunit?” in space.  Between the two, they mine the detective tropes to give us a femme fatale, a mysterious agenda, an off screen major threat and of course, the flawed hero.  The fact that these elements aren’t particularly new, yet the book still reads fresh, goes to show the talent this pairing brings to the table.  By giving us a closed box mystery, Higgins and Siegel are in total control of their environment, only giving us little  titbits of information, enough to keep the reader interested.  The dialogue can be a little cheesy in place, but this is more due to crime noir aspects, rather than due to any failings by the writers.  In space, everyone can hear you exposition.

The art is a stylized painted affair from Rod Reis, who gives us a Seattle straight out of Blade Runner, before moving off planet.  Reis’ art is angular with very few different camera angles.  At this point in the story, I don’t mind this but would hope that whilst the overall framework and facial elements remain consistently good, more is made of panel structure down the line.  Reis also provides his own colors, with a wide spectrum of schemes, from a soaking wet Seattle locale, to the uber clean apartment and back to the dingy working environment of the space ship.  Reis uses a range of techniques from bleeding color from a character, to effectively going for contrasts.  Both methods work extremely well throughout the book.

The key factor in this book are ensuring that the main character remains relatable and that the readers care about him.  On top of that, the mystery has to be worthy of the eight issues.  Too often the punchline of a number of mystery stories fails to deliver on the setup.  I am hopeful that under the guidance of Higgins and Siegel, we are in for quite a ride.

Writing – 4.5 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars

Story By: Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis

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