Written by Corey Taylor
Art by Richard Clark
A man wakes up in a strange land with no idea who or where he is, suddenly chased by ghostly mobs and a doppelganger. Sounds intriguing enough, but does the book go anywhere with it?
This first issue follows an unnamed human male around a dreamlike field. The character is unnamed except for the label “Zero” on his jumpsuit, almost like a prison suit. He also doesn’t know who he is, so don’t expect any answers from him anytime soon.
During his escapade, he meets a ghost-like creature who takes his likeness and calls himself Allen. He warns the human of an unknown event called “The Conflagration.” Allen tells the human and us that the key to leaving this crazy world is at the House of Gold and Bones, but can the human get there before Black Jack’s ghastly gang catches up to him?
If this sounds particularly surreal, it is. We readers are as unaware of what’s going on as the human, so we become just as frustrated as he is at this confusing predicament. Why is he being chased? Where is he and where is he going? What is going on? Who is this guy? No idea to any of these.
Yes, it’s the first issue, so it’s supposed to set up the general mystery of the story. It’s also supposed to introduce us to the characters and the world so that we have a starting point we can grasp. I’m not the biggest fan of overdone exposition, but it’s better than none.
The human himself is a bland character. He’s confused and angry about this strange situation he’s in, as anyone would, but he doesn’t do anything to gain our favor as an interesting protagonist. I don’t care what happens to him and would much rather explore the world, which doesn’t get done much in this first issue. It reminds me of the 2009 The Prisoner remake with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen, except without anyone as charismatic as Jim Caviezel or Ian McKellen.
There’s no foundation set to hook us into this world, and there’s no character we feel drawn to, so there’s no real investment to keep us readers wanting to know the mystery of this world and this book.
The artwork is serviceable for the story. Unfortunately, as the story isn’t really exciting as you can tell from the above, the art follows suit and feels bland. Several of the panels and the character blocking are bland. Some of the facial expressions are off-putting and unnatural.
The key scene for the art to make its mark – the scene where the human and we readers get a look at this strange new world – is a letdown by how unremarkable it is. This is supposed to be a strange, disorienting world, and we just see a plain valley and some mountains with a sunset.
One of the variant covers, a red and black portrait of the man screaming, is a neat artistic take with the title in white with some splattering effects and a definition of “overture” (the title of the issue). It’s a good cover, but the inside just doesn’t measure up.
Overall (Not an Average)
First issues are hard, especially for brand new series without any established characters or tie-ins. You have to hook readers right away, or else they won’t stick around for issue two. I won’t be sticking around for issue two of this one. I hope the story develops more quickly for those who do.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10