The first issue of AfterShock Comics‘ Shipwreck is already must read comic, because it’s written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Phil Hester. That alone is enough to warrant a purchase. I was prepared to commit to the first arc of this book just because of the creative team, without even knowing what it was about. After reading the first issue, I’m still not hundred percent sure what it is about, but it’s engaging, beautiful , and strange. That’s for damn sure. Whatever road Shipwreck #1 is taking us down, it’s a journey worth taking.
If you are an avid reader of the works of Warren Ellis, the setup of Shipwreck will not be completely foreign to you. This is not to say it’s a retread of one of his previous works, because it isn’t. It does have elements that make it uniquely Ellis and it just feels like one of his stories. It’s a stranger in a strange land, a man lost in world of violence, gore, and insanity. It features lots of characters spouting out bizarre monologues about things our man character can barely grasp. It’s weird, in other words, but as a huge Ellis fan, it’s the kind of weird I can’t get enough of.
I could use space here to relay the basics of the story to you, but I believe that’d be doing you, the reader, a disservice. A big part of Shipwreck #1 is the sense of confusion and hopelessness of our main character. He’s lost, and we experience things as he experiences them. You’re better off going in blind, just cracking open that first issue and discovering the strange horrors that are contained within. I will say this, it has a lot of spiders in it. An uncomfortable level of spiders. It feels icky, at times, seeing those little monsters crawling out of the panels.
When Phil Hester draws a comic book, it’s a book you should be paying attention to. His hard lines and jagged visions create a unique and exciting experience, no matter what he is drawing. Shipwreck #1 is bloody (literally) brilliant. Hester’s storytelling is superb, his sense of pacing and layouts unparalleled. Truly, this comic is one of the best looking things to hit the stands this year. From the opening sequence, to a twisted kitchen experience, Phil Hester is at the top of his game here. Amazing stuff, from the first panel to the last.
The visual flair of Shipwreck #1 is also thanks to the inking of Eric Gapstur and the colors of Mark Englert. Gapstur has been inking Hester for a long time, and the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Gapstur’s sure hand brings to life the heavy shadows and creeping darkness. The colors are beautiful. Englert’s textured palette is soft and, at times, muted. Shipwreck is never overly bright or flashy, there’s always a strange, washed out feeling, and you can thank Englert’s colors for that.
When it comes down to it, nobody should have to tell you to buy Shipwreck #1. Look at the creative team, that’s should be enough. If you are concerned it might not be any good, allow me to put those fears to rest. It’s beyond good. It’s a fantastic first issue and probably the best thing AfterShock has put out to date. You want this comic, trust me. You want to experience Shipwreck.
5 out of 5 Weird Burritos
Image: AfterShock Comics
Benjamin Bailey writes for the Nerdist and can be found on Twitter talking about Godzilla, comic books, and hardcore music.