When an actor’s name appears on the cover of a comic, us fanboys become skeptical. Heroes hottie Milo Ventimiglia’s name is stamped on Rest from Devil’s Due and more familiar names like Nicolas Cage have had their input on comics, thanks to Virgin (who also had something in the works with Hugh Jackman. I guess we won’t be holding our breath for that one, thanks to their recent downsizing). Kevin Smith seems like the only name that makes fans flock to his comics, regardless of an inconsistent output. And do you notice how it’s usually the indie publishers that pull this? Marvel and DC don’t.
So another actor has his name associated with a comic. A Baldwin brother no less. However, don’t let that deter you. Don’t judge this book by its cover. The first issue is an engrossing start to this mini-series. The story is created by Stephen Baldwin, with help from Andrew Cosby (creator of the TV show Eureka) and is scripted by Caleb Monroe.
Beginning with corpses floating in the street after Hurricane Katrina is an attention grabber. Then to seal the deal one elderly man speaks into the ear of a victim, giving him life. We are then introduced to CIA agent, and newlywed, David Sacker just before he’s caught in an explosion at the Federal Building in L.A while attempting to file marriage papers. David is flung to the ground, clutching his life, just before the man saved in the first few pages passes on the favour, whispering to David and allowing him to return to his very thankful, and amorous, wife. All seems happy for the re-united couple, until a pair of investigators from Homeland Security break the joy by taking Sarah Sacker in for questioning. She, nor David, has any idea why she’s there, despite her name and address being found on the bomber’s body. David is determined to save his wife any way he can and goes home for the night. However, being the on-edge agent that he is, notices a stranger, attacks him and a chase begins. Little does he know that the man he’s silently chasing is the one who saved him in the explosion. Confusion about the mind behind the attack reigns, until a breakthrough in the analysis – the main suspect is the silent Katrina ‘victim’ who apparently is legally dead.
Where this all goes from here is anyone’s guess, but this is a superb set-up. Its mixture of cop-show reality and the supernatural is a classy one. Nothing about this story is over-the-top, but is all handled with a very aware pace. Monroe builds a great rhythm and uses his limited time with the main characters extremely well. In only a few scenes, we know all we need to know about them and their personality shows. It’s a simple tale, but one with enough surprises to entice you further. I dare anyone to not read the next issue after reading this dynamic premiere. Apart from the pacing and characterisation, the greatest highlight is the art.
I’ve never heard of Julian Totino Tedesco. After this, that will change. I would not be surprised if he graduates to the Big Two in a year or so. The action in this issue is minimal. The explosion and chase are more than needed, and essentially the remaining pages are talking heads. But in Tedesco’s capable hands, they come alive on the page. He’s not afraid to use white space when necessary, and to break panel boundaries and wisely use every page as a new design opportunity. The Federal Building explosion is the best ka-boom I have ever seen on paper and the chase is so varied in its choice of angles that it could be a Spielberg storyboard. Managing natural conversation with scenes of devastation, and a somewhat raunchy make-out scene between the Sackers is a great display of diversity. His art lies somewhere in the vicinity of Frank Cho (Hulk), thanks to the flowing lines and natural expressions. I am so glad BOOM! has enlisted Tedesco. The studio has some truly great titles around, with original ideas, like Challenger Deep and Station, but too often the art is too rough and sketchy and doesn’t give the concepts the support they deserve. If this is a sign of BOOM!’s future, I’ll be definitely be reading more of their stuff.
There is a subtle sense that the world’s not as it is supposed to be running throughout this ish; one that will become more prominent in the next three issues if Baldwin’s rather eloquent intro is to be taken as a promise of things to come. This book has got me. It’s a well rounded package. On every level its just a pleasant surprise.
The Remnant #1 hits stores on Christmas Eve. Grab it.