There seems to be something missing in comics today. I think the years of persecution as a subversive, sexually deviant and socially corrupting form of media has given rise to a bunch of hipsters waving around political and social agendas, spilling their pages with curse words and bodily fluids and thinking they are a realism writer, with about as much credibility as a Nazi claiming to being an equal rights activist. Simplicity has become something reserved in comics for children. Few can appreciate a good story anymore unless it’s filled to the brim with dark, gritty images and the message that humanity is generally crap. Raygun is special however, it’s a simple comic, written simply, drawn simply, and it is simply amazing.
In 1917, Nikola Tesla rushes in his laboratory, putting together the final few elements that will enable him to send an unknown invention forward in time, succeeding before the army storms his lab. In the present day, a boy named Matthew is off-loaded onto his estranged father by his mother. Facing bullies at school and a home-life with a man who is a stranger, Matthew is understandably frustrated. However when he is locked in a cleaner’s cupboard on a school excursion, he emerges that night to find a ray gun inside Tesla’s electricity generator. Meanwhile in the white house, the President receives a message from Edison telling him that a threat to the world has just been unleashed.
I can’t really fault this comic on anything. I’ll start talking about the writing. It’s marvellous. It’s feels really natural. It feels like everything a character should say, the do say, which I’m finding doesn’t happen a lot these days. Characters either say too much, or too little so often, and as a result dialogue and narration can feel forced. There’s nothing like that in Raygun. Reading Gregory Schoen’s writing is like watching events unfold before your eyes. It’s immersive, fun, entertaining and very skilfully done.
The character design is great. The poses and faces of every character hints at what’s going on beneath what they display on the surface. From the pained expressions on Matthew’s face to the arrogant snarl of the bullies.
I really have to applaud the art overall, it’s amazing. Raygun is a black and white comic, which I was initially turned off by. I’m not usually attracted to black and white comics, purely because most of the time when I read them, there’s always a few panels which just look like a chaotic scribble of lines and black splotches. Black and white is really easy to mess up in comics, but the combined art of Alonso Molina (pencils and cover) and Paulo Lopez (inks and letters) flows together seamlessly. Although black and white there is never a jumbled up page, and the images flow in harmony making Raygun a really easy comic to read.
While not necessarily an original premise, it is certainly an old plot done differently. A person in a position of powerlessness, is suddenly granted power that no one can take from them, but the first issue leaves readers questioning whether this power will be a gift or curse. It’s an old story, but it’s so perfectly written in this comic that it doesn’t matter. The simple truth is after reading the last page, I sat at my computer for a few minutes, looking at the last panel while thinking “…$#!t…” with no idea what was going to happen, but the desperate need to find out. I then scrolled back and forth through the comic to see if I could glean any more information from the happenings but I couldn’t, and now with a single issue, I am simply overwhelmed by the variety of turns this story could take. A story that opens like that needs to be commended.
Raygun is a stripped-back, simple comic with an amazing story and amazing visuals that leaves readers begging for more. It’s entertaining, deep without being ‘subversive’ and it’s just a perfect comic. I can’t wait to see what else comes from Gregory Schoen. 5 out of 5 stars.