REVIEW: No Wonder #1

Writer: Jeremy Hauck

Artist: Ellis Ray III

Colourist: Sean Callahan 

QUICK REVIEW HAIKU

Lots of strong ideas

Adjustment time for the art

I’m ready for more

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Ever since my first interview with co-creator Jeremy Hauck a few months back, I was captivated by this book’s concept; it falls somewhere between a future full of hope and one where we, as the human race, cannibalise what we’re capable of. You believe in the first few pages that everything is going to turn out alright, but there’s an underlying uncertainty beneath it all that poison what would otherwise be a beautiful scene. Ray’s pencils provide all of the detail that you need to fully envelop yourself in this world, working well with Callahan’s colours to form a world that manages to be both technologically advanced and very naturalistic.

Narration frames the first few pages in a speech that feels very classically inspirational. By feeding into the innate feeling within all of us that everything is going to be alright in the end, Hauck draws you into a piece of positively aligned speculative fiction before quickly subverting all of your expectations and taking the story in an entirely different direction. The black caption boxes emphasise this clash between a bright and a bleak future, subtly informing you that this book isn’t going to be as straightforward as you might expect.

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Ray’s art style, as much as I like it, is definitely one that you need time to adjust to. Although it initially seems that body proportions are slightly off, it quickly becomes clear in the wider shots that it’s part of the style, in the same vein as Felipe Andrade or Sanford Greene from Marvel’s new Power Man and Iron Fist. This exaggeration works wonders for the more dramatically positioned moments, such as our first glimpse at the Custodians, allowing the fact that they’re heavily posed to work well with the style of the rest of the book.

However, there are times when the layout of the panel isn’t quite clear enough to portray the intended information; there are a few close zooms in small panels that show the corner of a mask or a sliver of a mouth, forcing you to take a moment to identify exactly what you’re looking at. One minor and admittedly finicky detail that I noticed was the lack of consistency in the shape of the hair of the protagonist, Turner Lane. I understand the decision to portray the mop of hair moving around, but the inability to look between panels and create a consistent three-dimensional image of the character was something that took me out of the story on multiple occasions.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the chase scene through a field of what is presumably corn. It allows Ray the chance to show off his storytelling abilities by switching between an intimate camera shot right in Turner’s face and an aerial view of the scene showing each member of the pursuing crew. Colourist, Sean Callahan, creates very believable shadows from both the corn and on the characters themselves. It’s very easy to feel grounded in this world by the striking difference between these plants and the more unnatural world around them.

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Turner has only just begun to wake up to the state of the world around him, making him the perfect point of view character into this world. A teenager stumbling through a dystopian world is a trope that we’ve seen before, but there’s something about the way that he sees the world that makes me think that this series going to be something special. His bravery in the face of absolute uncertainty and sense of wonderment is enticing, but only future issues will tell whether or not his personality will start to come to the surface.

After eagerly anticipating my print version of this issue to experience the story in its natural habitat, I’m happy to report that it definitely lives up to expectations. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend picking up the Benjamin Sawyer variant cover as it’s a beautiful thing to see in person. Although the aesthetic is definitely an acquired taste, by the end of this introductory chapter, I was already eagerly awaiting more. Hauck reveals just enough about the ongoing plot of this series and, although the civilians of this world are encouraged not to ask questions, this book has left me with so many. I need to know what happens next and so will you.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

1794510_10152296358040871_1273862368_n Written by Mark Dickson

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