Review - Reaver #1 (@imagecomics)

"Some disagreements are still occurring."

Prisoners are as timeless as royalty--the dynamics between the two has always been fascinating, with the latter becoming the former at times even. In Reaver #1 from Image Comics, the prisoners get a chance to reclaim their reputations at the expense of some royalty. The issue is written by Justin Jordan, illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs, colored by Alex GuimarĂ£es and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

The continent of Madaras once promised a new start for settlers, but 200 years after its discovery, the war rages on. Deep within this savage and untamed land, a darkness builds at that must be stopped at all costs. To do so, the Imperials assemble six of its most despicable prisoners—a turncoat, a skin eater, a sorcerer and his bodyguard, a serial killer, and the Devil’s Son—the only ones who can stop the end of the new world. They are Hell’s Half-Dozen.

The core concept of the issue and series is something of a medieval Suicide Squad and Jordan pulls that concept off pretty effortlessly. Jordan spends the first few pages of the issue explaining to the reader the strife running rampant across the continent of Madaras before getting into the key players needed to turn the tide in the ongoing war. Each of the characters brings their own unique talents to the team and Jordan has even managed to work in an era-appropriate remote detonation of sorts to keep the criminals in line. Jordan does great with defining each character although there are a few lines here and there that feel a little modern (remarkably casual even) for the book's overall setting. The ending of the issue has the sufficient level of surprise that will make the duration of the series play out in a very fascinating way.

Isaacs artwork is very clean and refined in its approach. Each of the criminals sport very unique looks that help the reader keep up with each of them and instantly recognize their specific talents as it relates to the team. There's a lot of attention paid to character detail by Isaacs that goes a long way in ensuring they are emotive. Isaacs arranges the panels with an attention to order, mostly relying on relatively organized grid layouts with the occasional inset/overlay for good measure. GuimarĂ£es brings a wide variety of colors to the work that provide variety for both the settings and the characters.

The fun thing about Reaver #1 is its relatively lighthearted take on the otherwise serious subjects of war and espionage. The assembled team is going into a situation where they know they're not likely to survive, but that won't stop them from serving their mission for whatever reason. Jordan's script is paced well and informative in getting the reader prepared for what's to come. Isaacs' artwork is gorgeous and provides the proper look for the book's tone. Reaver #1 is a great start to a new series.

Reaver #1 is available now.