We are in possible paradox making, definitely head ache causing time travel again, for the first time in this new book from AfterShock Comics, which features another Marty, in this case Martin Malone who is juggling timelines and ramifications.
As its issue one, we get an origin story. This time it’s the convict doing good deeds whilst incarcerated for murder. Of course, we have all seen too many episodes of Orange is the New Black to believe it will all end up as easily as attending the parole board hearing and being released, free to wander society. On the eve of his hearing, Marty receives a death threat and a mysterious box, the latter carrying a message and equipment. From there things move pretty quickly as Marty sets about escaping his pre-determined fate.
Co-creator and writer Frank Barbiere is quietly going about his business, producing quality stories such as the current Dejah Thoris run for Dynamite Comics. Here, unshackled from a licensed character, Barbiere is pretty much free to go anywhere or even any when with his character. First issues are scene setters, giving us a little history, an introduction to the cast and potentially showing sparks within the main character that will form the hooks that will keep us buying the book next month and beyond. This template is used effectively as we get to see Marty in his new life, his past life and hints at his motivations. Dialogue wise, the book is filled with the types of prison characters you will have seen a million times. Don’t let this particular stereotype dissuade you from reading the book; future Marty is so much more interesting with a parallel being drawn from his actions taken to promises broken, which you may miss if you skim through the prison scenes.
Co-Creator Garry Brown is a Scottish artist, who graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Art in 2010. Since that time he has carved out a name for himself, mainly with Dark Horse on their The Massive book. I very rarely think of nationality when looking at comic book art, although in some cases there may be definitive influences in play that are too obvious to miss. Brown’s art remind me of the majority of my interactions with Scottish people, who at the risk of stereotyping, I have found to be gruff, rough, stubborn and thoroughly engaging. Brown’s work is a scratchy style that at first glance may seem abrasive. However, three pages in I was hooked as Brown manages to convey a lot of emotion with a “less is more” approach around faces and shows a good eye for camera angles. Brown has to deal with three distinct locales and manages excel in each of them. Some of the credit for this must also go to colorist Lauren Affe who does a great job with chaos of the first act, building on the drabness of prison and then contrasting this with Marty’s psychedelic trip.
This book has a few influences to consider. As mentioned there is the Marty reference, but there are stronger ties to films like Looper potentially and the TV series Quantum Leap. Very much like Doctor Sam Beckett, who stepped into his Quantum Accelerator and vanished, Marty is on his own mission, putting the things that once went wrong, right. Only this time, Marty is using a gun rather than good intentions and a hologram version of Dean Stockwell. The issue is a fun read and unlike the majority of AfterShock’s books which feel like mini-series or mini-runs, this actually feels like it could run into an ongoing series.
Writing -4.5 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars