Review - The Precinct #1 (@DynamiteComics)

"We'll always keep our monsters hidden in the dark. It's just the nature a' things."

Steampunk technology is a great literary device, as it taps into a bit of history and spins it with some more fanciful trappings. It's a great setting for some works of fiction--works such as The Precinct #1 from Dynamite Comics. The issue is written by Frank J. Barbiere, illustrated by Crizam Chisthian Zamora, colored by Dinei Ribeiro and lettered by Troy Peteri.

In the sprawling, steampunk metropolis of the big city, it’s up to one group to keep the peace and uphold the law—the officers of The Precinct! Mortimer Hill is a veteran officer who has busted his fair share of criminals, but when mechanical monsters start causing trouble he’ll need to use all his wits (and brawn!) to get to the heart of the mystery. Along with his new partner—a representative from the enigmatic Alchemy Academy—Mort will face the biggest case of his career—and the most dangerous!

There are broader issues that Barbiere explores in The Precinct #1, the most prevalent of which is the age-old conflict between technology and magic. Much of the world in The Precinct #1 is powered by steampunk devices and technology, so the appearance of Acolyte Josephine Winters and her reliance on alchemy is an interesting contrast. Bringing together Mortimer Hill and Josephine Winters is a mysterious rash of murders throughout the city that forces them to reconcile their disparate beliefs in order to find the culprit. Barbiere does a good job of blending together their two philosophies, even offering a handy primer on how the two exist within the universe of The Precinct. The society's reliance on both aspects drives the universe, but the detective case aspect is what drives the narrative of the story itself.

The look and feel of The Precinct #1 effectively taps into the steampunk style. Zamora's characters all feel unique and have their own personalities, which further underscores the differing "opinions" on what makes the world go round. Gears pepper backgrounds while steam-powered trains travel on tracks above the city, giving the reader hints that the city heavily relies on the steampunk technology. There's an effective juxtaposition by Zamora though that highlights the alchemy focus as well, with massive libraries standing against the cityscape that eschews gears for books. Much of the book is highlighted by an array of browns and blacks (with some alchemy greens peppers in) by Ribeiro, all of which effectively captures the spirit of steampunk.

The Precinct #1 has the feel of Jules Verne writing a Hellboy book. There's a great detective story hidden amidst the city rife with steampunk technology and musings on alchemy. Barbiere cleverly sets up the future of the series by methodically introducing the key players and different approaches to investigating. Zamora's illustrations are adventurous and offer a city teeming with technology and wonders. The Precinct #1 is a great first issue that sets the table very effectively, asking that its readers settle in for a good meal.

The Precinct #1 is in stores now.