Geiger's Art Meters Attention

Written by Geoff Johns
Line Art by Gary Frank
Color Art by Brad Anderson
Letters by Rob Leigh
Published by Image Comics

A nuclear bomb hits and because of the nature of his cancer treatments, a man is able to survive the blast and gets powers he can barely keep in check that have deadly consequences for those around him. He's devoted to keeping his family safe but, well, this is a nuclear holocaust, so you know how that turns out. But a new found family gives him purpose in the launch of a new series of books from Johns, Frank, and others.

The biggest reason I pulled this one out to talk about is just how good Gary Frank is as an illustrator and the use of color by Brad Anderson. I'm a hard sell on post-apocalyptic books and unfortunately, nothing Johns does here colors outside the lines enough to wow me. The antagonists Geiger faces are straight out of central casting. (Could we maybe give Vegas Post-Apocalypse Quirky Ruler a rest?) They don't do anything really new or interesting here, just the usual "Brutal Absolute Monarch on one side, Restored but Morally Bankrupt Government on the other" styles with the typical motives and monologues. It's just been done to death, and unfortunately Johns can't get us out of the rut. 

But my goodness, the emotions of the characters pop off the page thanks to Frank, even when shrouded behind masks and other safety equipment. This is a preview page from the first issue:

Here you'll see what I mean about how well Frank gets emotions across to the reader. First we see Geiger's pain as his muscles strain. Then anger as he works to force his family into safety, followed by the fear of his wife. Then in the first panel of the last row, we see a man resigned to his fate, saying goodbye to his family. The wrinkled brow, pained eyes, and face structured to look like he's trying to jump out of the panel to join his wife and child, who are behind the reader here in this angle, just tell us all so much. The coloring changes from Anderson help immensely with giving this moment all the weight it needs.

When Anderson colors things to show off Geiger's powers, it just really blows you away. Because he keeps most of the rest of the color art so standardized, the dramatic moments with Geiger are striking and make you linger over the page to just stare at the way it stands out against the bleak backgrounds.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a lot of good images from Image of Geiger himself, but this cover of issue three will give you a solid idea of what I mean by the dynamic use of color against the backdrop:

 Look at how the surreal glow pops right out at the reader's eyes. Then take a little more time and notice that through the color, while other artists might have shown the impression or outline of his clothing, Frank gives us details down to the shoelaces and the folds of his pants at the knees and hips! That isn't necessary, but it makes the cover even more striking. We can also see the grains in the wooded bookcases and the fact that not all the books are the same. And of course, there's the strain and pain on Geiger's face, showing how much keeping those books safe means to him. All of this is because of how much effort the art team puts into the work here, an effort too often overlooked these days in my opinion.

Because of that level of detail and effort, I kept on going long past the time the story itself was holding my interest. If you're willing to deal with an okay plot that's pretty standard for the genre, you'll be rewarded by page after page of awesome art. That's what I opted for and I was glad I did. I understand this is getting or recently received a newer, glossier edition, and I can only imagine how good that looks. While this won't win any writing awards, it's an artistic tour de force that I wish others would take note of and emulate.