Review - Cry Havoc #1 (@ImageComics)

"For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last long. Something would turn up to scare it away."

There are times when everyone is faced with an internal struggle. The subject of the struggle could be as simple as what to wear or gravely more complex such as a debilitating mental illness. Reconciling one's demons is often an exercise in futility and that exercise is exacerbated when your demon is a werewolf as it is in Cry Havoc #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, colored by Nick Filardi (London), Lee Loughridge (The Red Place) and Matt Wilson (Afghanistan) and lettered by Simon Bowland.

Lou is a gay, London musician, struggling with her identity, who gets violently plunged into an occult nightmare – which totally messes up her life. In order to overcome this sinister influence she's sent to war-torn Afghanistan with a unit of Private Security Consultants each of whom, like her, holds a monster inside themselves. Their mission: to locate and kill the leader of a folkloric revolution.

Full credit to Spurrier: he's crafted a pretty fantastic first issue. There's a tightness to the entire issue in terms of the plot and pacing that makes it feel extraordinarily lucid from start to finish. Spurrier skips around a bit in presenting the overarching concept of werewolves and how their abilities both help and hinder their causes, but he does so in a way that comes together quite nicely in the end. Lou serves as the focal point for the issue (and presumably series) in that she's struggling with something she didn't ask for, yet has changed her regardless. What's more is how Spurrier presents Lou in three distinct locales/situation that is equally effective in moving the plot forward while simultaneously giving Lou personality.

The pages drip with a very violent and savage symbolism courtesy of Kelly's artwork that successfully blends together people and animals. The transitions from a seemingly idyllic lunch at the zoo to a chopper landing in war-torn Afghanistan is handled perfectly by Kelly, providing geographical transitions for the reader that don't feel jarring. And Kelly does a fine job of filling each panel with characters rife with a range of emotion, much of which tends to focus on fear and terror. What's going to get a lot of attention in the book is the use of three colorists for each of the three locales. Filardi's work on London casts the city in a bluish hue, perhaps symbolizing the depressed emotion associated with dealing with newfound abilities. Loughridge's washes "The Red Place" in reds that convey dire circumstances for Lou, while Wilson's yellowish/green tinge offer up Afgahnistan as a location that many will only go if their desperate (which Lou is in this case).

Cry Havoc #1 offers a very elegant portrayal of struggling with the monsters that reside in every one of us--only here, they manifest themselves more violently. Lou comes across as a seemingly benign musician with a newfound beast inside of her--the perfect portrayal of "look the innocent flower, be the serpent beneath." Kelly's illustrations are gritty and the perfect complement to Spurrier's crescendoing fervor. Each of the three colorists do a fantastic job differentiating the locales and pieces of Lou's personality. Cry Havoc #1 is a well-thought and well-executed first issue that should have readers coming back for more.

Cry Havoc #1 is in stores now.