By Zack Quaintance — Welp, it finally happened. After four full months and a few very close calls, we have our first perfect 10 comic of 2019. It is (as one has likely already surmised by this headline) Eve Stranger #1, an absolutely perfect debut comic. There’s a powerful one-two punch on the surface of this comic that really makes it go go go from the first page.
The first is the narrative voice penned by David Barnett. It’s second person, speaking directly to the protagonist in a way that makes it easy for the reader to experience her perspective. It’s in the preview text, so it’s not really a spoiler to note the protagonist here is an amnesiac. She knows some things but she doesn’t know anything about herself. In that regard, our hero and our audience are the same. We know some things, and we can see all that’s happening to our hero. We don’t, however, know much about her other than what we’re told by the narration.
Barnett’s pithy and intense scripting orients the audience throughout, doling out just enough information so that we can empathize with our protagonist, Eve, and also draw new meaning from the things happening to and around her. It also does great work in setting up a status quo. We are given the sense of who Eve is, what she does with her time, and why...all of which are very compelling.
Also compelling? The absolutely phenomenal work by artist Philip Bond and colorist Eva de la Cruz. Let’s start with the colors. With first Euthanauts and now this book, de la Cruz has established herself as something like a secret weapon for IDW’s (excellent) Black Crown imprint. The coloring in this comic is asked to do quite a bit of tone-setting—fading out for flashbacks, going manilla folder-esque for boardroom business wrangingly, and exploding to life whenever Eve has any agency—and de la Cruz handles it all flawlessly.
Bond, meanwhile, is obviously a massive talent with a long, versatile, and eclectic body of work to his name. It has been a while, however, since he’s done sole art duties for a comicbook story proper. This shows in Eve Stranger #1, which is not to say Bond is rusty or something, far from it. In Eve Stranger #1, Bond’s artwork feels boundless and unrestrained, as if the artist is laying it all out there. There’s one page in particular about halfway through this comic that blew me away. It goes detail shot of Rolls-Royce motorcycle, giant searingly-cool panel of Eve Stranger nonchalantly mounting said motorcycle, and a set of three panels at the bottom, wherein Eve notices a nearby baby’s face, recalls her own self as a child, and recalls a mysterious memory of her father. Obviously, I can’t do it justice with words here, but when you read this book (as you all absolutely should) keep an eye out.
So yeah, I loved this debut comic, everything from the voice to the aesthetic to the simple-yet-heady themes about duty, family, identity, and manipulation. It’s a great read, one that any and every last fan of the graphic sequential storytelling medium is likely to enjoy.
Overall: The confident and clear narrative voice staves off the disorientation inherent to a story about an amnesiac, while the artwork is all kinds of stylish. This is one hip comic, and it reads like a lightning bolt of pure fun to the face. 10/10
Eve Stranger #1
Writer: David Barnett
Artist: Philip Bond
Colorist: Eva de la Cruz
Letterer: Jane Heir
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.