Review - Ex Sanguine #1

There's nothing worse than trying to remember one's place in the world. For some of us, we've just got a lot going on. For others, it's a form of amnesia. For Saul Adams, it's a little bit of both in Ex Sanguine #1 from Dark Horse Comics.

The first issue is written by Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley, with art by Seeley, colors by Carlos Badilla and letters by Emmons.

The aforementioned Adams is something of a shut-in, content to keep his thoughts in a journal. That journal comes in handy as he's struggling to remember who he is exactly. He does know that his fish hate sunlight and that he's not scared of punks and hooligans. His quiet ways warrant a visit from FBI agents Quinn and Franks, who are investigating a series of murders in the area.

Saul has a secret inside him that he shares with Ashley, a waitress at a local diner. Ashley also has a secret and the two of them come to something of an agreement regarding their secrets. By the end of the issue, Saul is again approached by the FBI for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Emmons and Seeley have created a world that's not quite as dark as Silence of the Lambs, but could rapidly get there. Homeless are being preyed upon and Saul has a secret that's revealed through the course of the issue. The mystery surrounding his past adds a layer of intrigue to the proceedings, as the reader will likely find out more about Saul at the same time he does.

Ashley is a bit of a wild card and could prove problematic for Saul. She looks up to Saul in a way and commiserates with him on multiple levels, but is just as quick to take orders from him for whatever reason. Whether or not they'll rely on one another to make things easier remains to be seen.

Seeley's art is okay with some fairly basic panel layouts. Quinn takes on some poses that are a little bit sexually charged, almost as if she's posing explicitly for a camera. There's also a few artistic inconsistencies. For instance, there's a panel where Quinn is rolling up her left sleeve to bash in a door, but the next panel has her leading with right arm, sleeve rolled down.

For a book about murders though the art isn't overtly bloody or gory, which keeps it grounded in a way. Saul gets to show off a few different looks, helping to strengthen his characterization as both arrogant and monstrous. The aquariums that inhabit Saul's apartment make the setting a tad uncomfortable, which works in a book like Ex Sanguine #1.

The first issue of the series offers the start of a fairly standard police procedural with a supernatural twist. Saul clearly has more to him (as does Ashley); however, whether or not it's something interesting will require reading at least the next issue. The murders seem to have a cultish angle to them, which could pay off in a big way down the road.

Ex Sanguine #1 is in stores October 17 with interiors below.