Review - The Family Trade #1 (@ImageComics)

"My family's task--my task--is to make sure the Float keeps floating."

Everyone's family has its own quirks. Some families have a uncouth uncle or a prejudiced grandparent for instance, but they're still considered to be family. In The Family Trade #1 from Image Comics, families have a lot more than just culturally inappropriate relatives. The issue is written by Justin Jordan and Nikki Ryan, illustrated by Morgan Beem and lettered by Rachel Deering.

Steampunk, alchemy, and adventure meet the ocean. On an island city in a world where history didn’t quite turn out like ours, a hidden family of spies, thieves, and assassins makes sure that the world keeps going. Or they did, until Jessa Wynn, their youngest member, manages to start a civil war.

The premise behind The Family Trade #1 is pretty straightforward in that Jordan and Ryan entertain the thought that there's a family of assassins/thieves/spies working behind the scenes to keep the world safe. Where things get slightly more complicated, however, is with the actual family dynamics amongst said assassins/thieves/spies. Jordan and Ryan do a swell job of getting the reader up to speed on the entire world being established through the main character Jessa, speaking to the reader as if they're coming along for the ride. As there is a lot to establish, much of the dialogue is actually monologue in that most of the book flows through Jessa and her words setting the scene. Jordan and Ryan also build up the main antagonist as someone who bears more than a passing resemblance to various political figures, infusing the work with a charge of outrage.

The characters and settings are illustrated without any defined sense of rigidity or formality as Beem instead chose to illustrate the world much like a children's book in some regards. This certainly isn't a knock on Beem's style; rather, the approach lends itself well to the somewhat ethereal nature of the Float and its inhabitants. Beem also relies on pops of color throughout the book that emphasize various aspects of the characters; for Jessa, her red scarf really stands out. Perspectives are presented through the panels that focus the reader's attention on the action from increasingly tighter angles. And Breem left the gutters empty and that further gives the book a sense of ambiguity reflecting the concept of the Float drifting.

The Family Trade #1 explores a really interesting concept about a family of assassins/thieves/spies working in concert to keep the best interests of a city at the forefront of the city. Jessa is its youngest member and--in her haste--might have inadvertently kicked off a civil war amongst the family. The script by Jordan and Ryan has a lot it wants to explore and in some regards the issue does lean very heavy into exposition co more than showing. Beem's artwork is a great fit for the content of the story as it gives the tale room to breathe. The Family Saga #1 is a pretty heavy first issue that looks very ambitious in scope and could be a lot of fun.

The Family Trade #1 is available now.