Friday, April 18, 2014

Shutter #1


Shutter #1

Written by Joe Keatinge

Illustrated by Leila Del Luca, Owen Gieni and Ed Brisson
Image Comics
Shutter is a fantastic new comic from writer Joe Keatinge, illustrated by Leila Del Luca, with colors from Owen Gieni and letters from Ed Brisson. It's also one of the most fun, inviting, engaging first issues of a comic I've read in a long time. Not to pass judgments, but if you don't love this you might not have a soul. There's art here that just pops off the page, and a great deal of attention has been paid to all of the design elements in this book. There's also a remarkable amount of world building that takes place in a single issue, and that's handled skillfully, without feeling like a lot of exposition is dumped on the reader.
Kate Kristopher is the daughter of Chris Kristopher, world famous explorer. As the story opens with a wonderfully rendered shot of young Kate on the moon, chasing after her father, we can see that this is a world different from our own. The next scene shows us Kate's fathers study, where he reminds her of her family's legacy of exploration and discovery. 

The story then jumps twenty years to the present day. Kate wakes up in her apartment with her talking cat alarm clock, and news on TV of the gods of a lost civilization returning after twenty thousand years. Kate opens her window and we venture out with her into the world, and see that this is a world not so different from our own, except that magic, monsters and other supernatural phenomena are real here and just part of the landscape of New York City, along with the Empire State Building, and dirigibles (a popular feature of many alternate world stories; people just love a good dirigible). 

Kate is approached by a child on the subway, who recognizes her as the author of books from her own time (alone and with her father) as a world-famous explorer. She tells the child that she's left that behind, and she also rebuffs her roommate's attempt to reach out to her. She's on the way to her father's grave, an annual tradition. While she's there, having an intimate moment with the memory of her father, she's attacked by purple ghost ninjas (because of course), and she holds her own against them; as she tells them, she's had some experience dealing with things like this before. Finally, as she is overtaken by the ninjas and a robot with a mustache who appears to be wearing a cowboy hat (again, just like you normally see), the issue ends with a surprising revelation.
This issue was a real joy to read. Only one issue in, and Kate Kristopher is already an interesting, complex, protagonist about whom a reader would want to learn more. As mentioned above, this is a gorgeous issue, an impressive combination of styles. Del Luca and Gieni do some masterful work here, as the adventure scenes from the past have a soft, warm quality, the scenes in Chris Kristopher's study have a silver-age, pop art, pixelated feel to them, and the present day scenes have a harder quality, with more shading and more realistic colors. 


The art here works to effectively tell the story, as we understand the adventure scenes from Kate's past are seen through the warm fog of memory, and the scenes in her father's study have a different quality (just like you might remember a fun family trip differently from how you would remember an important lecture from your parent). The team here is also showing us (rather than telling us) about this strange and complex world that Kate lives in. They don't waste time telling us "this is a world of magic and monsters living among people, full of supernatural mysteries", they just show us this by having Kate travel from one point to another. By the end of the first issue, you've got a sense of the scope of the series, and anticipation for what's to come. A very strong debut.

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