Review - Trout: The Hollowest Knock #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"...but alas, not every story ends happily ever after."

The allure of the sea isn't nearly what it was since there many other ways of traveling and communication. In the past though, there was a time when the sea was a great frontier full of opportunity and mystery. In Trout: The Hollowest Knock #1 from Dark Horse Comics, it's more of the latter. The issue is written, illustrated and lettered by Troy Nixey and colored by Dave Stewart.

Blaming him for the loss of the children of lower Upton, the townsfolk burn down Giuseppe's turnip factory and run him and Trout out of town. Sick and distraught, the two have no other recourse but to travel across the ocean to Giuseppe's childhood village. Trout is lost along the way, and Giuseppe is forced to deal with his brother's meddling in order to find the mysterious little boy he's sworn to protect. Can Giuseppe find him before Trout meets his fate at the hands of the god of the sea?! And who is the shadowy figure trapped in a giant shark egg who is struggling to keep Trout alive?! One thing's for certain: for better or worse, Trout will never be the same again.

There's a lot of weird going on in the issue, most of it surrounding the fisherman Giuseppe and his peculiar son Trout who have been blamed for the recent transformations in a small town. Nixey keeps things moving relatively well in a way that's pretty informative despite the relative lack of dialogue throughout the issue. In fact, much of Nixey's script is carried by groans and crowd murmurs, all of which actually do wonders for creating the atmosphere. Nixey could easily have spent more time priming new readers, but instead he's focused on going forward and the writing reflects a trust in the reader that they can pick things up as they go along. All that being said, there's still some murkiness surrounding the overarching story in terms of who Trout is and why he is, but there's a sense that questions like those will be answered going forward.

Nixey also handles the artistic duties and much of the linework is very messy--in a good way. There's a very creepy quality to the way Nixey illustrates the characters, in that both humans and others tend to have a very unsettling appearance about them. A more mature artistic approach would certainly add a further sense of dread, but Nixey's caricatures offer some levity while at the same time offering their own version of eeriness. There's a sense of claustrophobia ever-present throughout the issue because of the panel layouts--an irony certainly not lost considering the vastness of the sea that serves as the underpinning for the setting. Stewart's colors are oceanic in nature, relying upon rich blues and vivid oranges/browns to great effect.

Trout: The Hollowest Knock #1 is a tale of the sea that embraces its mystique. Giuseppe and Trout are being singled-out for their supposed role in a blight upon a small town, but there are other forces at work which may have something to say as well. Nixey's script is light on dialogue but heavy on communication, giving monsters a voice that's spooky. Nixey's artwork is very appropriate for the book's approach to the ocean and its mysteries. Trout: The Hollowest Knock #1 is a continuation of a tale of the sea, but there's plenty here for new readers to be able to enjoy as well.

Trout: The Hollowest Knock #1 is available now.