Right out of the gate, all a person can say about this title is "Whoa". Typically it takes me around 15 minutes to read through a single issue of a comic. Distractions come up, my mind wanders and if its not grabbing my attention I slow roll my way through it. But today, this title, grabbed me immediately, and I devoured it in 5 minutes. Not because it was lacking in text, or even a particularly light read, but more because it had me hungry for more from the first page. I'm not sure if it was the colorful variant cover by Jeff Lemire, or just the general excitement of a new series starting, but since we've put it on the shelf it's as though its been staring me down like Sauron's eye beckoning me to pick it up. Well today I finally did, and I'm glad for it.
Matt Kindt and David Rubin under the umbrella of Dark Horse, have done a great job of capturing a few keystone elements that make a comic great for me. First of which is strong, stylistically defined art. The transition of its color palates set a great tone depending on the context of the characters. Without spoiling too much, we find out right away that we have a scientist protagonist, that through some undefined method has found a way to access the realm of what we earthlings consider "magic" and the color choices for this realm couldn't be more appropriate. It explodes off the page with heaps of loud colors, and original character designs that put you right into the mindset of what Ether is all about.
Secondly is the humor. From the first panel, you realize that dialogue among these main characters are going to be light with banter, and a chaotic stream of consciousness that doesn't lose the reader. It's very easy to follow the comedic rhythms from frame to frame, without it being forced or overwhelming. I was reminded of Rick, from Rick and Morty when it came to our main character "Boone." A man that puts science first, adventure next, and does it with the razor sharp wit of an uninhibited thinker. You can tell that there won't be much mystery to him, but considering the tone of the comic I think that's an appropriate personality trait for it's main character. His transparency acts as the perfect contrast to the cryptic plot that's presented . We are quickly taken into the depths of a mystery that is going to evolve quickly as this story unfolds, a murder has occurred in the "Ether" and the mayor of it's Capital City, Agartha knows only one person for the job and that's where we find our leading man.
Lastly, it truly captures the spirit of exploration. I grew up loving stories like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Lost In Space, and just about anything ever written by Jules Verne. Stories of relatively normal people (okay, so maybe the cast of Star Wars doesn't fall under this category) thrust into extraordinary scenarios, and Ether is no exception. A world filled with unknown beasts and geographies, just waiting to be discovered. A tale of daring, where the motivation is the furthering of knowledge, and breaking down the walls of mystery to find the truth that lays just beyond them.
Personally, I can't wait to see where this path leads. The first issue had me laughing, mesmerized, and curious as to what would be next. I couldn't take my eyes off the art, and now have an unquenchable thirst for the refreshing style that it's been illustrated in. If you're looking for a new take on a nostalgic sci-fi detective story, this is a great place to start. Buckle in, because it's going to be an interesting ride.