Review - Ether #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"And every time, I'm a little more prepared."

Getting away from reality for a vacation is always welcome. It alleviates many of the responsibilities associated with the day-to-day and gives you the chance to just relax. For some that relaxation is maybe a beach, but for Boone Dias of Ether #1 from Dark Horse Comics that relaxation involves solving crimes in a magical realm. The issue is written by Matt Kindt and illustrated/lettered by David Rubin.

A science-minded adventurer gets mixed up in the mysteries of a fantasy world in this charming new adventure. Boone Dias is an interdimensional explorer, a scientist from Earth who has stumbled into great responsibility. He’s got an explanation for everything, so of course the Ether’s magical residents turn to him to solve their toughest crimes. But maybe keeping the real and the abstract separate is too big a job for just one man.

Kindt pretty much lets the reader know from the outset that Ether #1 is going to be slightly unconventional. The dialogue exchanges between Boone and Glum the Gatekeeper help move the narrative along in a buddy cop fashion. That narrative is one of mystery and magic as Kindt intertwines the two in a way that feels natural and works exceptionally well. Boone is tasked with investigating quite possibly the biggest crime the Ether has sought his experience for and Kindt characterizes Boone as a man who feeds off of the attention because he's rather lonely everywhere else. It's a pretty powerful juxtaposition in that Kindt reminds the reader that sometimes you're happier in a completely foreign place because compared to your normal routine it's just better.

Capturing the effervescence of the Ether is Rubin's artwork which does so in a way that's very fanciful. Rubin illustrates the beings of the Ether with enough creativity that they look like magical creatures, but then he also works in more human mannerisms such as smoking a cigar to ground the book in some reality. The empty gutters frame each panel well and Rubin largely plays it safe with the layout--save for a few call-outs here and there. Some of the panels get pretty crowded with all the dialogue bubbles though, but it's not so overwhelming that it detracts from the overall enjoyment. Rubin's colors are also pale and almost washed-out in a way that puts the reader in a psychedelic mindset.

Ether #1 thrives on glorifying the abstract--something that's relative to everyone. Boone is happiest in the Ether and would gladly give up his normal life to stay there if he could because the grass is always greener on the other side. Kindt's narrative is engaging and entertaining, eschewing the more serious side of a whodunnit for delightful character exchanges. Rubin's artwork is vague in a way that's indicative of the atmosphere in the Ether. Ether #1 is a lot of fun and an intriguing first issue.

Ether #1 is in stores November 16.