Review - The Empty #1

"The rest is rot. Poison infects everything."

Humans fear the unknown. They grab onto things they know and hold onto them as anchors, relying on them as a solid foundation to which they can tether themselves and have a constant. Venturing into the unknown is a bold step for those on the fringes of civilization, but it must be done in the interest of human survival. In The Empty #1 from Image Comics, the world's inhabitants are forced to contend with such an unknown. The issue is written and illustrated by Jimmie Robinson.

Tanoor lives in an empty apocalyptic world of poison and decay. Her village is all that remains of humanity as they struggle against mutant beasts and rotting bones. But Tanoor finds a chance to save her people when a stranger drifts into town. A stranger armed with the power to grow life from death. A stranger who could change the world-if Tanoor can keep them alive in the deadly world of The Empty.

The Empty #1 is a story about a village living in fear. They're living in fear of the unknown, cowering behind the veneer of the last bit of familiarity they can grasp onto. Robinson's portrayal of such a climate is powerful and offering Tanoor as a bold opposition to the mindset is a great way to inject conflict from the start. She's insistent on finding a way to reverse their predicament, even if the elders seem to think otherwise and instead are content to assume the worst is out there in "the empty." Their plight is a classic man versus nature one as well, with nature essentially fighting back against humanity through a deadly poison. That scenario makes the arrival of the stranger quite poignant, as she represents both a possible salvation and a great unknown that the villagers must accept.

Besides the environmental story threads, what stands out most in The Empty #1 is the vivid and vibrant artwork. Characters take centerstage, sporting a rather elongated look that makes the setting feel even more foreign to the reader, adding to the mystique. Tanoor's look is one of desperation and violence--two things she manages on a daily basis--as she sports a smattering of tattered bandages and blood stains from hunts. The facial expressions on the characters are intensely emotive, underscoring the somewhat turbulent nature of the book itself. And Robinson doesn't shy away from bold colors, despite the somewhat dystopian elements pervasive throughout the work.

The Empty #1 is a very strong first issue that succeeds at transporting the reader to a faraway place. And the reader is fortunate too, because it's got strong JRPG sensibilities to it that indicate to the reader that there are broad aspirations and ambitions contained within. Robinson's story is clean and straightforward, presenting characters who are intriguing and interact in ways that encourage the conflict of the plot. His artwork is unique and refined, presenting the Empty as a vast unknown that's truly effective at instilling fear in those on its fringes. The Empty #1 is a really solid first issue that does everything right and is aiming to go down a very turbulent path before it's all said and done.

The Empty #1 is in stores February 11 with interiors below.