Overview

Ryder on the Storm #1

Review

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Ryder on the Storm #1

Credits

  • Words: David Hine
  • Art: Wayne Nichols
  • Colors: Feigian Chong and Sansan Shaw
  • Publisher: Radical Comics
  • Price: $1.00
  • Release Date: Jul 28, 2010

Versatility can never be too overrated, especially when you’re writing comic books. The last thing I read by David Hine was The Bulletproof Coffin, a book that exists on an entirely different plane of existence than his latest work from Radical, Ryder on the Storm. So it was with no little curiosity (and trepidation) that I started reading Hine’s more conventional, pulp-influenced mystery tale.

Atmosphere and setting are important in any story, no matter the medium. This is particularly true of pulp fiction. In Ryder on the Storm, Hine and artistic collaborator Wayne Nichols create a setting so fully realized and believable, it functions like another character – maybe the most important character. Without a believable setting, a time and place readers can truly escape to, the characters and events of any story fall flat and become forgettable.

Hine and Nichols spend a lot of time and effort to ensure this doesn’t happen in Ryder on the Storm. Although the setting and characters appear conventional on the surface, Hine and Nichols fill their world with a veritable plethora of unique details and twists, setting it apart from traditional pulp environments. They use a light touch, allowing the audience to discover the distinctive characteristics of their setting and characters naturally, without bogging the journey down in extensive exposition.

Often, the first issue of a new comic series feels cramped and a little heavy, as the creators attempt to cram every little detail of their fictional universe into the plot at the beginning, so they can get to the meat of the story sooner. Hine and Nichols show exceptional maturity and restraint by allowing their audience to discover the singular nuances of their pulp-inspired setting at their own pace. Their anonymous twilight city of canals, hovercrafts, and licensed private eyes doesn’t need to be forced on the audience – it just is.

Nichols packs each panel full of intriguing details and characteristics, such as analog computers, wireless old school telephones, and a canal system that appears to be the main way to travel in the city. His detailed pencils and the coloring team's smart color choices infuse the city with an overcast looming quality that reinforces the story’s lonely, seedy tone. Subtlety is key here, as both Hine and Nichols refuse to take a heavy-handed approach to the setting, simply injecting their world’s distinctive qualities into the story as if they’ve always existed.

Hine shows the same restraint in developing his cast. However, in the case of the protagonist Ryder, a little more explanation would have helped establish him more firmly in the imagination. He seems to have an odd effect on at least one character’s mental faculties but Hine never really goes into detail. Presumably, this aspect of Ryder’s character will be explored more fully in later issues but in this first chapter of the story, it came off as distracting more than intriguing.

Based on the solid foundation of a fully realized setting and a strong supporting cast, Ryder on the Storm was a comic I found myself thinking about long after I first read it. Even if the protagonist fell a little flat in this first issue, Hine and Nichols’ anonymous city of canals and gray skies, despite its oppressiveness, is a place I’d be more than happy to explore again – in the trade paperback, if there is one.

Perhaps if Ryder registered a little more strongly in my imagination, I wouldn’t wait so long until I visit again but as it stands now, it’s a trip I can put off to another day.

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