Review - Butterfly #1

"But in the project, we don't have names. Though sometimes...they'll call me Butterfly."

The thing about spies is that you always have to watch your back. For as good as they are at hiding their identity and traversing the globe without raising alarm, they also manage to build up quite a list of enemies. That level of danger is something that appeals to the thrill-seeking personality trait shared by most spies; a trait that is typically passed down from parent to child. In Butterfly #1 from Archaia, being a spy is definitely rife with all the requisite dangers. The issue is written by Marguerite Bennett (story by Arash Amel), illustrated by Antonio Fuso, colored by Adam Guzowski and lettered by Steve Wands.

Butterfly is one of Project Delta’s deep cover agents, no birth certificate, no social security number, a complete ghost. When her cover is blown and she is set up for a murder she did not commit, she is unknowingly led to her father’s doorstep, a man she thought died 20 years ago. Codenamed Nightingale, her father was once a member of the very same Project Delta, a spy in the violent aftermath of the Cold War and believes they are behind her setup. Trained to trust nothing and no one, Butterfly must decide whether to seek answers with the Project or believe the man who betrayed her years ago.

One of the biggest components of an espionage tale that has to be done well is the unknown part. That is, following along with the main character and wondering when (or if) they'll get caught despite all their elaborate ruses and tricks. Bennett does a marvelous job ratcheting up that tension for Becky throughout the book as the reader is introduced to what is more or less the more "tedious" details of a spy's daily life. There's genuine concern on the part of Butterfly and the reader as to whether or not she's going to get pinched by any number of various authority figures and Bennett capitalizes on that for framing the entire series. The latter third of the book is a pretty interesting swerve as well, giving the reader another perspective of Butterfly that makes the entire story come together more tightly.

Boasting a slew of zooms and cut shots, Fuso's artwork in Butterfly #1 is extremely effective at conveying the hide and seek nature of espionage. The panels are laid out in a way that's very familiar and organized, feeding into the calculated nature of what it takes to be a spy. Fuso's looks move the story along at a very brisk pace and feeds into the frenetic nature of spies, moving from city to city and hoping to stay undetected. The rapid-fire nature of Fuso's art perfectly complements Bennett's terse narration that accompanies much of the story. Comics in general are really nothing more than just static images, but Fuso's work adds a certain level of dynamism to the panels that make them all feel like true snapshots of time, rather than just illustrations.

Butterfly #1 is a very strong first issue that takes its time in unfolding to the reader, not really proving to be in a hurry to accomplish anything in particular. The set-up in the first issue is very intriguing and while it does provide a lot of narration and backstory to the reader, it also leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Bennett's script is relatively simple and straightforward for the most part, while also managing to offer relative complex subtexts that explore the nuanced world of espionage. Fuso's art feels very mysterious and his use of unique panel layouts keeps the book moving along in very interesting ways. Butterfly #1 is a very enjoyable first issue that is the start of something that will likely be even more enjoyable.

Butterfly #1 is in stores now with interiors below.