Review - Pisces #1

"Came out here instead. Figured either way, one of us was going to die."

Experiences make up our personalities. What we see and do have a direct impact on who we are and what we become. There are some things though that are so horrible and leave such a lasting impact on someone that it's almost impossible not to call upon them at various points in your life. Things like the Vietnam War for Dillon Carpenter in Pisces #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, colored by Tamara Bonvillain and lettered by Ed Brisson.

Former fighter pilot Dillon Carpenter found everything he wanted when he returned from the Vietnam War. A loving partner, a dream career training with NASA to travel through space, and soon, he will learn, a prime candidacy for a secret mission, one that will forever change the world: First Contact. But as Dillon prepares, his war trauma returns and he's haunted by dark visions of his future. There is but one constant; the voice whispering from the stars.

Pisces #1 isn't shy about showing the reader that Dillon's life is anything but tragic in many ways. Wiebe's crafting a rather horrific atmosphere in the first issue that's very vague on details when it comes to what Dillon is really about. There's a good mix of present and flashbacks mixed together in a way that shows the reader that Dillon is slightly unhinged (or at the very least suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). There's a good bit of time spent with Dillon in the Vietnam War, but this isn't a war book; rather, it's a book delving deep into the past of a man suffering from lasting effects of what he experienced during the war that dictates his current decision-making. Wiebe's approach in the first issue really to build the atmosphere more than anything, which comes at the expense of completely filling the reader in on the details of what Dillon's role will ultimately be. The trade-off between story knowledge and setting doesn't really hurt the issue, but there are points where the reader will feel a little confused as to what's going on.

If the story in Pisces #1 is moody, then Christmas' illustrations are downright terrifying. His style adds a certain level of realism to the book through characters who feel as if they've got some heft to them, presenting themselves as more than just illustrations. While much of the artwork by Christmas fits within the immediate context of the story at that point, there are pages where he gets a chance to get a little more surreal, adding another layer of complexity to Dillon as a character. There are some points where the art gets a little gory as well, but Christmas doesn't allow it to overtake the book; instead, he uses it as a means of further exploring Dillon's mental state. Bonvillain's colors add another layer of reality to the artwork by grounding it in a look that feels natural as opposed to supernatural.

Pisces #1 is fascinating first issue that spends a lot of time introducing the reader to its main character Dillon. He's a man whose been through a lot, struggling to hold it all together for reasons not yet made clear to the reader. Wiebe's script is deliberate, spending plenty of time getting to know Dillon and his world as opposed to barreling through to a point where the crux of the story is revealed in the first issue. The artwork by Christmas is strong and focused, depicting a man's past in the Vietnam War as every bit as violent and turbulent as veterans and observers of the war will testify to it being. Pisces #1 is a very intriguing first issue that hooks the reader with a lot of suspense and mystery surrounding its direction.

Pisces #1 is in stores now with interiors below.