Review - I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1

"I'm thinking about cashing it all in. Becoming a traffic cop or something."

Life as an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent certainly has moments of excitement and intrigue, but those moments are usually balanced out by what is perceived as n obscene amount of paperwork. There's never seemingly a dull moment though, especially for the agents in I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 from 12-Gauge Comics. The issue is written by Doug Wagner, illustrated by Daniel Hillyard, colored by Charlie Kirchoff and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

The Infektsi, a group of Chechen mercenaries, have entered the city of New Orleans, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. I.C.E. agents Cole and Ezra head to Louisiana to try and keep the terrorists from taking out a main hub of the US power grid.

As far as first issues go, I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 crashes through a lot to get things to where Wagner wants them to be. Cole Matai and Ezra Delgado are the two central characters who rally around the shooting of a fellow agent and the appearance of Chechen mercenaries, but along the way there's plenty of time for some good old cop stuff. Wagner's approach in the issue is to infuse with the sensibility of a police procedural, ensuring that the main character demonstrated a sufficient level of "gumption" that comes with being hard-nosed cops. In that sense, the dialogue mostly works, save for a few instances where it feels a little corny. The actual plot itself develops pretty well, with the reveal of the Chechen terrorists handled in a way that presents them as truly unpredictable.

Many of the settings in the book are ones you would expect I.C.E. agents to contend with: dark warehouses and docks, typically at night. Hillyard's work is very strong here, as he doesn't allow the nocturnal settings to overtake the appearance of the characters themselves. Both Cole and Ezra boast sharp, angular faces and sport body language that helps reinforce their experiences in their line of work. The book follows a very traditional panel layout as well, allowing the reader to better focus on Hillyard's work. Kirchoff's use of color is phenomenal, as it effectively captures many of those night settings well, in addition to effectively lighting up panels in the case of an explosion or Mardi Gras.

I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 is an intriguing first issue that features a lot of familiar elements. It certainly doesn't break new ground, but its take on the police procedural/buddy cop formula works generally well and there's a rather interesting villain so to speak in the form of the Chechen mercenaries. Hillyard's story features a lot for one issue (that just so happens to be 40-pages), which certainly isn't anything to complain about. Kirchoff's art is strong and presents a great rendering of the action. I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 is worth a read if you're a fan of cops and robbers duking it out with high stakes.

I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 is in stores now.