Review - Welcome Back #1 (@boomstudios)

"There's always a war. But this is not the war I am concerned with."

There are plenty of characters who can boast immortality on their resume: vampires, werewolves, ghosts. Few of those though really get to enjoy their immortality. There are others such as Mali and Tessa in Welcome Back #1 from BOOM! Studios who get to enjoy their endless cycle of life in different ways. The issue is written by Christopher Sebela, illustrated by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and lettered by Shawn Aldridge.

Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt…

There's a lot to take in with Welcome Back #1, but Sebela does his best job to make it relatively easy to follow along with. Mali's life is hectic and thrust upon her, while Tessa's life is hectic because she throws herself into it. The story plays out focusing on the two different characters in different times, but it's clear that their paths are rapidly converging on one another. That convergence is what makes the story really interesting and allows Sebela to play around with the pacing. That pacing is inconsistent in a positive way, as it gives the reader a few parts that are fast-paced and then other parts that are a bit slower for better taking in the entirety of what's happening.

Sawyer's uses a very harsh style in illustrating Welcome Back #1. There's an abundance of strong, black lines outlining characters and cutting through them that adds an overall sense of foreboding. Many of the characters boast relatively minimal amounts of detail when it comes to physique, but Sawyer manages to give each character plenty of emotion in their facial expressions. Backgrounds are sparsely populated by much more than a few details that give the reader context for the characters to engage with one another. Most of the gutters are black, which reinforce the notion that there is some evil lurking for Mali and Tessa.

Welcome Back #1 is a very strange book, but strange in a very endearing way. There's an interesting story at its heart that looks to be even more intriguing as it unfolds in future issues. Sebela's script is jam-packed with a lot of detail to establish the story and its events, giving the reader plenty to grab hold of. Sawyer's illustrations are effective and do a solid job of contrasting the tedium of Mali's everyday life with Tessa's more adventurous pursuits. Welcome Back #1 is an interesting first issue that looks to offer an interesting take on the concept of centuries old beings and their interactions throughout time.