|Interiors: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,|
"I skipped Aria, because despite the beautiful artwork and talented writer, the slow production schedule and fantasy leanings didn't really appeal to me. But the same creative team on a science-fiction/action/espionage series? I'm there. The first issue is everything I'd hoped it would be, with some great action, some wonderful atmosphere and dialogue and a really intriguing hook. Holguin and Anacleto have combined elements of Dark Angel, X-Files and other influences and turned out a compelling action story.
The choice to tell the entire story as illustrated prose is a good one, given the strength of Anacleto's painted artwork, but Holguin goes one better and makes the prose set the tone of the book. Instead of simply writing a story, he delivers prose in the form of e-mail correspondence, electronic journals or communication logs between a handler and his agent. It allows him to get the best of all worlds, plenty of exposition and entertaining dialogue but in a framework that sets the tone of the book at the same time.
That tone, by the way, is one of conspiracy and the dark underside of espionage. Anna and Brenda, the operatives of Athena Inc. on display, are not nice people, and so far they seem more like bad guys than good guys. Hell, the entirety of the first issue revolves around making a curious hacker disappear for discovering their existence! However, while they may not be what you'd call moral citizens, they are certainly compelling and real characters, as is their handler Alfie. I quite enjoyed the streak of dark humor that ran through the book in their dialogue.
Production wise, the book is excellent. Leaving aside the obvious questions of good paper quality, the graphic design is stunning. Anacleto's photo-realistic artwork, done up in a sort of blue-tone style, fits nicely into panels that connect through flow-chart lines, surrounded by caption boxes straight out of the familiar Microsoft interface. The medium is used to great effect, providing sequential storytelling but using the elements of style to reinforce the style of the book. I'm reminded of the work that JH Williams has done on the designs of Promethea, although with a technological rather than a magical bent.
There are a few glitches in the story for me, largely coming down to difficulty in understanding some of the sequences because of the sometimes-disconnected nature of text and art that comes with illustrated prose. Actually, it's not so much understanding that's lacking, it's a feeling that some of the action would have worked better if depicted more in artwork and less in text that stimulates the reader's imagination instead. And to be honest, while the production values are sharp, I'm not sure there are enough pages here to justify the six dollar price tag. Nevertheless, if you're looking for an entertaining action story, Athena Inc. is worth checking out".
Email Randy Lander comments about this review, or discuss it on the Fourth Rail.
|Interiors: 0, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4, 3-1, 3-3, 3-4, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.|