Thursday, November 10, 2016

Review - Namesake #1 (@boomstudios)


"We've got another one. Who can respond?"

New Year's Eve. Mardi Gras. Burning Man. These are all events that bring together plenty of people in a single area with vary intentions as to how best to celebrate what brought them there in the first place. The big difference between those events and Earth overlapping with Ektae as it does in Namesake #1 from BOOM! Studios is that only the latter involves Ektae magic. The issue is written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by Jakub Rebelka and lettered by Thomas Mauer.

Once every seven years, Earth overlaps with Ektae, a world where alchemy is not pseudo-science but the driving force of industry. For seven days, Ektae breaches our world, bringing dirty magic and ideas. Jordan Molossus was born of Earth and Ektae and abandoned by both, but when he receives two cast iron urns containing his estranged fathers' ashes, he'll leave everything behind to put his parents to rest before Ektae disappears for another seven years.

From the outset, it's very clear that Orlando is writing something pretty unique and strange at the same time. Ektae is a world that Earth acknowledges and readily contends with, making it something of a burden on the planet--even if Ektae's inhabitants are having a lot of fun. And Jordan is a peculiar protagonist in that he's part of both worlds and Orlando uses that to his advantage in terms of giving the book a broader sense of continuity. A good chunk of the issue is spent crashing through some of Jordan's past is pertains to his present and building him up to be something of a wild character. Orlando parlays that freedom into something more dangerous by the end as Jordan proves he's got plenty of experience to fight his way through tough situations.

Rebelka illustrates the characters with establishing character shots. There are many panels where Rebelka will have a character essentially staring right at the reader as if they're addressing them and it helps draw the reader a bit more into the event where Ektae breaches Earth. While the characters get plenty of attention, the settings and backgrounds are left a little vaguer; it's enough to set the scene though. A couple of pages at the beginning though are pretty clever, in that Rebelka blankets the panels with icons of hedonism to reinforce the insanity that is the Ektae intrusion. The colors are bright and vivid, drawing upon neons to further the narrative that the part is pretty crazy.

Namesake #1 is aiming for a lot. Jordan is someone familiar with both Earth and Ektae, but he's embarking on a quest to get even more familiar with his lost family history. Orlando's narrative is a little erratic at times because he's cramming a lot into the first issue, but eventually it settles down and looks to be headed in the right direction. Rebelka's artwork is a great example of a world dealing with a sudden rush of chaos. Namesake #1 has a lot of potential and seems content to explore that potential through the eyes of a complicated--yet unknown--lead character.

Namesake #1 is in stores now.

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