Friday, April 24, 2015

The Pull List: RUNLOVEKILL #1 Review

Welcome back, me!

After a not posting anything for a while, I figured to jump head first into the many new comics that have been coming out recently. I'm actually a little scared for my wallet, especially now that I've seen the solicits for June and July* of this year, but hey, I'll use this as an exercise in self-control. Not that the publishing companies will make it easy on me, but that's part of the fun, I suppose.

As kind of an aside, I'm actually a little disappointed with what Image is offering over the next few months in terms of new material. After Bitch Planet, Low, and Copperhead - each with awesome female leads - there's an uptick of yet again male-dominated titles coming out, both with casts and creators. It's not that I don't like reading comics that don't have a female lead - All-New Captain America is pretty great, as is Hawkeye, although one could argue that Kate is co-lead there - but it almost seems to be a subtle backlash akin to that whole Hugo Sad Puppies bullshit that's going on. But I digress.

In my first post back, I bring you RUNLOVEKILL by Jon Tsuei and Eric Canete (color, lettering, and design by Leonardo Olea). No spoilers, I promise!
Via Image Comics
The initial description on Image's website is what actually got me interested in this limited-run series, since I wasn't familiar with any of the creative team. I am always pro-escape story, dating back to one of my favorite movies of all time, Steve McQueen's The Great Escape, and when you add a kickass female assassin as the one trying to evade capture, well ... I'm already sold. It's almost always an insta-buy. I'm happy to report that I was not at all let down by this first issue.

The art by Canete is fabulous: colorful, expressive, dynamic. It's as if Peter Chung watched Purple Rain, The Fifth Element, and Dredd while high on peyote and attempting to read William Gibson novels back to back, and I cannot think of a better compliment than that. I love Canete's use of the simplistic panel design by Olea, which isn't something I would normally say, since I tend to lean toward more experimental layouts, but the flow with which the story was shown was excellent, especially the opening flashback sequence. Olea's colors are quite possibly my favorite thing about this debut issue; in the above-mentioned opener, he switches between warm yellows and oranges and cool blues and blacks, achieving this almost cinematic, dreamlike feeling that drew me into a story that, at that point, hadn't used a single line of dialogue. I actually stopped reading the book once I reached the end of the flashback and said aloud, to no in particular, "That was beautiful." That hasn't happened to me since Low, and you guys know how much I love that series.

As far as the writing goes, I may have found yet another favorite in Jon Tsuei. He gives you just enough with Rain's monologues and the various snippets of dialogue that you feel like you already know the world in which these characters live. Kind of like George Lucas' used Star Wars universe or truckers-in-space realism in Alien: there's enough ambient information within conversations and atmosphere that you don't need an expository explanation of how this world works (I'm glowering at you, Peter Jackson**), so you can just jump into the story. Which is literally what Tsuei does. We know next to nothing about Rain, except that she has to be somewhere, and honestly, had I not read the description prior to picking up this issue, I would have never known that Rain was a former assassin. Running from something, sure, but she seems a little inept at keeping hidden, although that could be the desperation. I did see the cliffhanger-style ending coming, which isn't a criticism actually, but it provides a sense of urgency, much like the first season of Orphan Black, that will undoubtedly fuel the series through its conclusion.

So yeah, I give this first issue five out of five stars and will definitely be picking up #2 next month. Or I may just wait for the trade to come out sometime next year, but LOL, who am I kidding? I can't wait that long!

* I made a list of the comics I'm enthused about and nearly cried when I realized it took up nearly two pages on college-ruled paper. The struggle is real, you guys.
** I've commented on this before, but as I get older, the more and more Peter Jackson's overuse of exposition in his movies irritates me. I always skip the opening in The Fellowship of the Ring because that whole sequence really serves no other purpose than fanboy wanking at their special effects budget.
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