Overview

The Emissary #1 (ADVANCE)

Review

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The Emissary #1 (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Jason Rand
  • Art: Juan Ferreyra
  • Inks: Clayton Brown
  • Colors: Angel Marin
  • Story Title: Revelations 1:4
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jun 1, 2006

The team that brought the world Small Gods is back with The Emissary, who’s anything but small and may be a god.

It’s a typical day in New York. Two cops, Tara and Josh have had a fruitless meet with a drug dealer, Tara not totally in the game because she’s just been served divorce papers. Nick, a crack reporter, gets his head straightened and his butt kicked by an editor who thinks he gets too deep into his stories. And Air Force Captain Honor Rivas vents her frustrations about her boyfriend and boss, both of whom take her for granted. New York’s 8 million other lives must be going as typically as these three—until the least typical thing imaginable happens. Down in Times Square, a man takes to the air. He doesn’t fly; he merely rises, and announces his presence to a world hardly prepared for him. He is The Emissary, and he’s come to usher the human race into an enlightened future. However, the response to him is straight out of our brutal and violent past and present. Fighter jets are scrambled, but The Emissary has power to match the awe he inspires.

Two double splash-pages and a single splash for the final page may be an artist’s dream, but they’re a challenge for a writer scripting that all-important first issue. Writer Jason Rand keeps it simple, focusing primarily on introducing his characters and then turning the action loose, but the writing feels both crammed on particular pages and yet massively decompressed on the whole. Rand’s characterizations involve pages jammed packed with dialogue and a conflict in every backstory. However, his characters come off with a stock quality, all of them sounding the same while divulging tons of information about themselves. We know about them because we know the types Rand’s using, but his lines and lines of dialogue don’t pay off because we don’t know Tara, Josh, Nick, and Honor and can’t lock into them. As for The Emissary, except for a few lines straight from a 50s sci-fi movie, he’s a total enigma with a serious god complex and a real talent for stopping Tomcats in mid-air. He’s the linchpin for the action, tough, which generates interest until the final sequence, The Emissary’s showdown with the Air Force drawn out in a way that telegraphs its resolution. Consequently, there’s not much of a cliffhanger at all, the suspense of the final page feeling very manufactured.

And about those splash pages. They do little for the story, and it’s difficult to see why the double-splashes couldn’t be singles, with a couple extra pages devoted to further developing a story than really needs it. Juan Ferreyra doesn’t sell them as images, either, and squanders the opportunity for real impact because he can’t seem to settle on The Emissary’s size relative to the things around him. One moment he’s the size of a normal body builder, the next he’s as huge as the plane he’s stopping, and there are few if any cues or clues as to why in either the writing or the artwork. Ferreyra’s work in the smaller panels is much better, however. I haven’t been a fan of his past work, his figures in Small Gods thick-necked and stiff, his art on a single issue of Rex Mundi simply not a good fit. But in The Emissary his panel layouts are strong, as is his storytelling in those sequences focusing on Rand’s supporting cast. And his figure work in these sequences is quite impressive, the lines and perspective tight, his character depiction realistic and full of life and movement. Clayton Brown adds to the effect with some polished inking, and Angel Marin opens the artwork up with plenty of white space and a minimalist array of hues played like variations on a theme of red and brown.

The Emissary #1 would have been a much better comic had the creative team gone back to the drawing board a few times before releasing a final product. It feels rushed and unfinished, and definitely B-game. For the $3.50 price tag, readers deserve a lot better.

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