Review - Marked #1 (@ImageComics)

"They were the last stars I ever saw."

There's a certainly mentality to people who have tattoos. The sense of community shared by the tattooed is strong and in Marked # from Image Comics that bond is even stronger thanks to magic. The issue is written by David Hine and Brian Haberlin, illustrated by Haberlin, colored by Geirrod van Dyke and lettered by Francis Takenaga.

The Marked may look like cool young influencers, but beneath the designer clothes, their bodies are tattooed with the magical glyphs of an ancient order that secretly protects the world against evil forces. With no new occult threats, The Marked use their tattooed powers solely for the pursuit of pleasure until a young woman called Liza creates a dangerous new form of Hybrid Sorcery. The party is over for The Marked. You’ll believe in magic—terrifying, soul-destroying magic.

Hine and Haberlin are funneling the narrative through Saskia, a young artist who stumbles upon a meet-up of sorts that turns out to be quite unique. The writers spend quite a bit of time world-building in the issue, methodically moving through the history of Marked universe as a means of explaining to the reader both how the powers work and why the stakes are so high. That set-up works very well for the duration of the series, in that Hine and Haberlin want to focus on the responsibility that comes with powers, but they further that dynamic a bit by looking at what happens when one wants to exploit their powers. The issue feels very front-loaded in terms of pacing as the two move through the establishing points, settling down a bit towards the end of the issue and taking a bit more time for the longer haul set-up. And the way the powers are presented is interesting, in that the characters essentially use their tattoos as computers of sorts to tap into their powers.

Haberlin's artwork has a certain detached quality to it that helps bolster the issue's bonafides. The character designs are simple, relying primarily on shading for dramatic effect and providing a stark contrast to when the tattoos are tapped for casting the magic spells. What works really well is Haberlin's panel layout--the panels aren't resting anywhere and seem to explode off of every page in tandem with the concept of magic exploding from tattoos. Haberlin's facial expressions are very emphatic, beautifully capturing the emotive responses to one learning they're capable of magic. The colors by van Dyke are bright and vibrant where appropriate, providing an elegant counter to the otherwise darker areas throughout the book.

Marked #1 is a modern take on the famous Spider-Man quote about power and responsibility in that it blends the arrogance of youth with a more artistic and creative mindset. Saskia is a believable lead character in that she's grappling with newfound abilities and all the attentiveness they require. The script by Hine and Haberlin is very fast at first before settling into a more moderately paced groove that draws the reader into the tattooed magic world. Haberlin's artwork is great at relaying how the magic really works and relies on a scattershot panel approach that feels appropriate. Marked #1 is a dense read on the first pass, but once you get a sense of what's going on everything becomes even more intriguing.

Marked #1 is available now.