By Nick Couture — Christopher Sebela is coming off of a great year. With 2018 books like Crowded — a fast-paced hilarious romp through the near future that’s filled with murder apps and really cute dogs — and Cold War — a kinetic futuristic action tale and art showpiece for superstar artist Hayden Sherman — Sebela is a must-read creator in 2019. Test #2 follows up a phenomenal debut issue, with more dense world building and a couple answered questions.
Picking up right after issue #1, we are introduced to a new cast of characters that help explain to Aleph more about the town. This is the resistance. They are old inhabitants who have seen how the town has changed. This is all an organic way to explain some of the lore surrounding the town. Eventually, Aleph runs into the mayor who provides a different perspective.
Sebela seems to employ the kitchen sink model of writing, throwing everything into the mix, overwhelming you with ideas. This book is exploding with its themes. Somehow Sebela pulls off the act of spinning all these plates at once perfectly. It really feels like he has found his voice in this approach. Some comics I want to chill out with, but I’m cool with the Sebela method of jamming tons of information into a single page. It feels like when Matt Fraction, after years of revelatively typical superhero books like X-Men and Thor, really started to hit his stride on more complex books like Hawkeye, Satellite Sam, and Sex Criminals.
The story of Test touches on so many things, like: self-harm, addiction, technology and resistance to technology, americana, self-doubt, apathy, growing up, moving on, the list goes on and on. There is a lot to chew on, which I find really exciting. I could see someone finding it unfocused in that way, but I like my media messy and with Test I feel the passion. Sebela writes a beautiful and often dark narration for Aleph that underscores the whole book. This is the soul of the book for me. Hearing Aleph talk about addiction feels raw. It all feels raw.
The whole team on Test brings their A game. Artist Jen Hickman gives the book a chunky feel I appreciate. Her style is reminiscent of Carla Speed McNeil and has a sort of YA look to it (whatever that means, right?), but juxtaposed with the heady story and often bloody violence, it works nicely. The moments of violence feel even more unexpected. Harry Saxon on colors and Hassan Otsame-Elhaou on letters round out the team, nicely giving it a totally cohesive feel.
Overall: Test is exploding and beautiful. I don’t know where the story of Aleph is going, but Sebela, Hickman, Saxon, and Otsame-Elhaou have created such a strong opening with these first two issues that I’m along for whatever wild, dark, beautiful things they throw at me next. 9.0/10
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Jen Hickman
Colorist: Harry Saxon
Letterer: Hasan Otsame-Elhaou
Publisher: Vault Comics
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Nick Couture is a video producer living in Lansing, Michigan with his wife and daughter. His first love is film but comics have been a constant source of creative fuel for him for many years. He loves drinking coffee and long-distance running.