Friday, July 8, 2016

Review - Throwaways #1 (@ImageComics)

"If you want to survive, you have to shut down the panic. Count your heartbeats. See your death before it sees you."

People want what they can't have and that includes superpowers. The government especially will go great lengths to weaponize such powers and offer plenty of opportunity for double-crosses in order to do so. Throwaways #1 from Image Comics tells such a tale. The issue is written by Caitlin Kittredge, illustrated by Steven Sanders and lettered by Rachel Deering.

THROWAWAY (n.) 1. A disposable asset, used for a single mission; 2. A disavowed assassin, meant to die alongside their target. Abby Palmer and Dean Logan are two broken people—Abby a vet with severe PTSD and Dean a burnout trying to escape the shadow of his infamous father—when they are thrust into a modern-day MK-ULTRA conspiracy…and discover they are both ULTRA's human experiments.

Throwaways #1 boasts a very strong script by Kittredge that hammers home the plight of veterans both during and after service. Abigail Palmer is an ex-Ranger who crosses path with Dean Logan, the latter of whom is something of an extraordinary individual. The dynamic between the two is well-depicted by Kittredge and provides for a good balance of personalities throughout the issue. The first issue also excels at offering up an introduction to the universe as Kittredge jumps back and forth between setting the table to offering information useful to the reader's understanding of the action. Probably the starkest part of the book is a brief segment setting up more of Abigail's story that really emphasizes the emotional burden soldiers are forced to contend with--it's an extremely effective way for Kittredge to further frame the characters.

The most impressive part of the artwork is how Sanders manages to make the characters feel so harsh on the page. Each character is illustrated very forcefully and in a way that makes them a part of the action surrounding them, but also makes them stand out against the backgrounds a bit. Sanders gets very creative with the panel layouts to better tell the story; the strongest is illustrating the aforementioned projection of the emotionally traumatized veteran. The panels are also marked by thick, black outlines that gives them a sense that they're thrown right into the thick of it (much like the reader). And each panel is very effective in setting up and following the action, whether it's an intense firefight or a simple email exchange.

Throwaways #1 runs very fast and doesn't stop--not even to let the characters (or reader) catch their breath. Abigail and Dean are unlikely allies and there look to be a ton of double-crosses on tap for all the players involved. The pacing of the issue does feel a little erratic at times as the book sometimes moves around too quickly, but Kittredge does manage to wrangle everything cleanly by the end. Sanders' illustrations are very impactful and bolster the script's somewhat assertive message. Throwaways #1 is a great first issue that defies any and all expectations in offering a fast-moving book that features plenty of larger cultural subtexts.

Throwaways #1 is in stores now.


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