Review - Cryptocracy #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"...we might have somewhat underestimated the scope of the detonation."

There are those who think people behind the scenes are pulling the strings of the world. Some people think they're a little off their game, whereas others think they know exactly what they're talking about. In Cryptocracy #1 from Dark Horse Comics the strings are clearly being pulled by people behind the scenes. The issue is written by Van Jensen and illustrated by Pete Woods.

For time beyond memory, the Nine Families watched from the shadows, believing themselves shepherds and manipulating whole societies as they saw fit. Nothing happened that they didn’t observe or control. Outsiders knew naught of the Families, much less threatened them. Until now.

The premise of an Illuminati-like organization pulling the strings of the world certainly isn't new, but Jensen puts his own spin on things. In that regard, Cryptocracy #1 feels pretty interesting in that it mixes in a few new concepts that make the story relatively unique. There are some issues though with the overall organization of the plot as Jensen skips around quite a bit in a way that feels slightly erratic. By the end of the issue the reader has a better sense of the overall picture, but getting to that point requires some pretty big leaps in logic that aren't necessarily intuitive. Jensen's dialogue is solid though and offers enough hooks for the reader to grab onto.

Cryptocracy #1 sports a look that borders on Saturday morning cartoonish. Woods' approach with the character designs rely on sharp, angular body types that emphasize various aspects of the human physique. This style allows the characters to appear clean and defined against the more simple geometric backgrounds. There is something of a jarring transition in art style early on the book and it gives the reader the impression that a different story is kicking off at that point. The colors are vibrant and provide a sense of awe in some of the scenes--many of which provide some lighting effects that accentuate various locales.

The nine families in Cryptocracy #1 have all been keeping each other at an arm's length via an unsteady peace, but that's all about to be broken by an interloper. That interloper is seemingly all-powerful and gives the story a great direction go in. Jensen's plot is a little loose at the beginning, but it's clear by the end he knows where he wants to go. The artwork by Woods is pretty clean and enjoyable, providing plenty of interesting characters interacting with one another. Cryptocracy #1 is the start of something much bigger for sure, but whether or not it can get there remains to be seen.

Cryptocracy #1 is available June 29.