Monday, August 15, 2016

Review - Hadrian's Wall #1 (@ImageComics)


"No, that's wrong."

Space exploration is a wondrous notion, but the execution leaves something to be desired at times. Establishing footholds in space brings with it people and people bring with them emotions. Emotions, people and space are all topics in Hadrian's Wall #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Kyle Higgins and Alex Siegel, illustrated by Rod Reis and lettered by Troy Peteri.

When an astronaut on HADRIAN’S WALL is murdered, pill-popping detective Simon Moore is dispatched to investigate the ship’s crew… including his own ex-wife. But if Simon's not careful, what he finds could make the interstellar Cold War go red hot.

The alternate future in Hadrian's Wall #1 provides a great backdrop for Simon's investigation of the murder. That setting is drawn upon by Higgins and Siegel to facilitate a world that's recovering from distrust amongst countries that seeps its way down to the individual citizens. Higgins and Siegel perform strongly in terms of patiently building up Simon's backstory along these societal lines and how they influence the current events. Simon isn't exactly a good guy (and his motivations are a little vindictive), yet Higgins and Siegel portray him in a way that makes the reader want to root for him at least somewhat. The dialogue feels pretty natural as it provides even exchanges that inform the reader without offering information dumps.

The illustrations in Hadrian's Wall #1 are pretty simple in their presentation. Reis' style is detached and staggered, laying out the characters as rigid forms against sparse backdrops. Each character dominates their respective panels as Reis stages them in ways that are established. This approach taps into the isolation of space well and reminds the reader in every panel how alone people really are. The colors are pretty washed out through the book and feature predominantly blacks and blues.

Hadrian's Wall #1 is a fascinating murder mystery set in space. There are plenty of twists and turns as Simon investigates the case, promising the reader some unexpected aspects that make for an interesting whodunnit. Higgins and Siegel are very concise in their narrative, delivering very deliberate dialogue and pacing throughout. The illustrations by Reis are ethereal and buoy the culture presented in the series. Hadrian's Wall #1 is a solid first issue that gets the ball rolling on a fascinating tale.

Hadrian's Wall #1 is in stores August 22.

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