Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review - Ruthven: Citizen Investigator #1

"The City-State - population two billion. In this vast jungle, a destroyer is making his move..."

The suffering need defenders. People who they can count on for protection when they can't protect themselves. People like Ruthven: Citizen Investigator in the comic Ruthven: Citizen Investigator #1. The issue is written and illustrated by C. & Q. Bowman.

In the back alleys of a futuristic City-State, a young waitress finds herself thrust into the hands of an insidious gang. James Ruthven, a citizen investigator, thwarts her murder and inadvertently stumbles upon a plot to overthrow the City-State. But with the clock ticking, can Ruthven prevent the putsch from succeeding? Or is it already too late?

Bowman relies on a dystopian future where the streets aren't safe unless you're affiliated with a gang. The thing is, all the characters seem to remind the reader of that on multiple occasions. There's a story in Ruthven: Citizen Investigator #1 that relies on that seediness and the fight for good to move things forward, but Bowman relies on bluntly stating the dire conditions to the reader. Bowman's approach to the dialogue is one that feels a little clunky at times, not quite impressing upon the reader a sense of conversation that would otherwise occur naturally. And the premise behind Ruthven is driven by the notion that one individual can right wrongs that would otherwise go uncorrected; it's certainly not entirely far-fetched but it does resemble countless other stories like it.

The artistic style is a mix between slick and stylized. Bowman's vision of his world is very dark and ominous, bolstering the claims of terror on the part of the underworld. The detail in the characters is fairly minimal, but Bowman uses shading very effectively to make the emotion on their faces more real. The majority of the book is illustrated in blacks and blues, perhaps to mirror the black and blue mentality of the denizens of the City-State. Bowman doubles-down on this effect by providing black outlines for the panels, making each one seem to blend in as snapshots of various parts of the city.

At its heart, Ruthven: Citizen Investigator #1 is something of a superhero story with clear inspiration from characters such as Batman and The Shadow. Ruthven is a character looking to stand up for those who need someone to defend them, but his motivations for doing so feel a little foggy. Bowman's approach is heavy on holding the reader's hand in laying out the state of things for the inhabitants of the depressed city. His artwork is very stylized and offers a futuristic bent to the proceedings. Ruthven: Citizen Investigator #1 is a little uneven at parts and suffers from some pretty basic dialogue/presentation, but there's also a clear direction the plot wants to move in.

Ruthven: Citizen Investigator #1 is available now via DriveThruComics.


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