Friday, September 9, 2016

Review - Surgeon X #1 (@ImageComics)


"If in my heart I do not yield, I'll overcome some day."

What tomorrow brings is generally a result of what happens today. That holds especially true for larger, societal decisions often made at the hands of a governing body. What that body makes a decision that seems to contradict basic human principles like in Surgeon X #1 from Image Comics, tomorrow might be pretty bleak. The issue is written by Sara Kenney, illustrated by John Watkiss, colored by James Devlin and lettered by Jared K. Fletcher.

Part One What do you get if you cross a far-right British government with an antibiotic apocalypse and a gruesome murder? The birth of Surgeon X and her renegade practice. Extreme times call for extreme medicine.

The premise behind Surgeon X #1 is glaringly simple yet alarmingly effective. Kenney's proposition is that we've over-prescribed antibiotics to a point where they're no longer effective and doctors must start making ethical choices that will openly defy the government. Surgeon X is a lead character who falls on the help where possible side of the spectrum and it's interesting to see how Kenney juxtaposes that with the larger government regulations effectively stopping her from doing her job. There's also a broader message that Kenney seeks to deliver in that giving the pharmaceutical companies the power they have might be the most direct cause of the apocalyptic scenario in Surgeon X #1. Kenney manages to cram all of the above into the issue thanks to some fast-paced dialogue and a bit of time-jumping to effectively present the new world to the reader.

There are a lot of shadows in Surgeon X #1 that Watkiss uses to literally represent the figurative shadow cast by the antibiotic regulations. Devlin's colors bolster this darkness as he relies on dark reds for the present to further symbolize the chaotic world. The main characters stand out a bit more from the background action as the panels focus on them. Watkiss frames the characters by focusing on their faces and torsos more than anything which allows their emotions to be readily apparent to the reader. Those expressions of emotion eschew finer attention to detail; rather, Watkiss instead focuses on embellishing the emotion through the eyes and mouth.

Surgeon X #1 is based on a pretty unique premise that's not entirely too far-fetched. Struggling to reconcile helping others with obeying the law will force people to make tough decisions and Surgeon X is clearly up to that task. Kenney's script is fast-paced and cleanly presents the stakes for all involved. Watkiss does a solid job with the artwork, rendering a world rife with flame and chaos. Surgeon X #1 is a great first issue that poses larger philosophical questions amidst the backdrop of an apocalypse without zombies.

Surgeon X #1 is in stores September 28.

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