Review Brew: Elsewhere #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Sumeyye Kesgin
Colorist: Ron Riley
Lettering/Designer: Thomas Mauer
Editor: Frank Pittarese
Over the last decade, Image Comics has been really knocking it out of the park with its new titles. Their independent creators are given a great deal of freedom and are therefore able to each bring a unique flavor that is sorely missed among the BIG two publishers. These titles change the landscape by establishing new themes, plot lines, and characters which have served to move the industry forward with an ever-expanding readership demographic.
And while these are not always fully groundbreaking and may in fact show signs of inspiration from other publications within their genre, they typically find a way to distinguish themselves by making base character types and settings that are interesting and engaging. Thus, setting themselves apart from their contemporaries.
That being said, Elsewhere attempts to capture the magic of recent sci-fi fantasy hits such as Saga, Seven to Eternity, Black Science and Birthright, while harkening back to classic tales like that of John Carter of Mars. However, in a market that is currently populated by such high-quality world building as those titles have achieved, there is a great deal of room for misstep with any newcomer that attempts to emulate them.
Elsewhere opens on an intriguingly designed, yet familiar world in which two prisoners, Cort and Tavel, have just escaped from what is later identified as a prison. However, as “Murphy” likes his laws, they come across none other than Amelia Earhart dangling from a parachute stuck in a tree. As the obviously strange altercation proceeds she seeks their help in finding her flight navigator. Thus, leading into the development of the tale as the trio concoct a plan to rescue Fred from the ruthless tyrant who has taken him prisoner.
Now, I must say the character and environmental designs are clean yet detailed enough to show expressions of fear, determination and joy very well. These feel very similar the work of Fiona Staples yet retains a distinct style which works well with the sci-fi fantasy storytelling. There is also a great deal of deep black shadowing which often sticks out as a sharp contrast to the rich blue and aqua color pallet used throughout.
In most cases this technique is used with great effectiveness and really makes the characters pop of the page. Although there are some instances of overuse which drown out the panels which may have instead benefited from shaded texture to add depth and character to the world. In fact, there are very few instances of overall texture and detail making it difficult to differentiate between organic and inorganic materials. However, in the very few instances where the artist zoomed in, he demonstrates a keen eye for facial structure and expressive representation.
The story and plot are interesting premises, but far from original. However, as this is but the first installment, there is still significant opportunity for this adventure to grow and perhaps lead to a greater overall concept which is unique to the series. As far as first issues are concerned however, there is a lot lacking in terms of storytelling. From unrealistic dialog, to oddly nonchalant discussions between the principle characters, despite the circumstances of their chance encounter and the sheer gravity of it all.
Lettering work is sound in this issue and the font style matches the ridiculous concept with a typical “COMIC SANS MS” text. Although there is no variation in the font style regardless of the speaker. Which further emphasizes that the characters are somehow speaking the same language or can at least understand each other. However, how this is possible, is not yet explained.
The apparent antagonist of the tale makes a short and almost unnecessary appearance in the closing moments of the issue. His character design looks very strong and I look forward to see if the character lives up to his design.
Elsewhere is an interesting idea which takes advantage of the mystery behind Amelia Earhart’s disappearance as a principle plot device and while such melding of history and fiction has proven to be successful with other titles in the past, in this case, there was clearly a lack of direction from the creative team as to how they could realistically and effectively incorporate the character.
Additionally, there are massive plot holes in the story which should have been addressed. Like, how can they understand each other? Why is there almost no tangible emotional reaction between the two races when they meet? And how, in the name of James Cameron, does she go from “damsel in distress” to *Totuk Makto in less than an hour?
Ultimately, these questions do not drive reader interest but instead serve as a distraction and prevent the reader from achieving emersion into the story. A trait which similar titles have accomplished with much greater degree of success. Yet, despite this, it is just the first issue, and the conclusion is compelling enough to warrant follow through into issue two (Sep ’17). Perhaps with some further character development this story could take us Elsewhere.
Rating: 2 parachutes out of 5
* A member of the race of the Nav’i whom has successfully bonded and rides the Great Loenopteryx. As presented in James Cameron’s Avatar.