REVIEW: Nowhere Men #1

Nowhere Men #1

Nowhere Men #1

Written by Eric Stephenson
Art by Nate Bellegarde
Color by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Fonografiks

Color/32 Pages/$2.99

Published by Image Comics

There’s something in the air this year. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps its a byproduct of the creator owned burst of 2012, but there’s something about science fiction and comics.  Perhaps it’s our fascination with technology, or the natural progress of what our interests are, and by no means am I complaining about it. Not at all. In fact I’m loving it. We’re getting tons of great, diverse comics that are all based in some aspect of science fiction and the latest entry may be one of the most exciting of all, Nowhere Men #1 from Image Comics.

Promoted with the tagline, “Science is the New Rock-N-Roll,” Nowhere Men #1 is the brainchild of Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson, who’s writing the comic after developing it for years.  He’s joined by artist Nate Bellegarde, colorist Jordie Bellaire, with letters and design by Fonografiks, and this team, much like the team in the book itself, have put together something special. In fact, Nowhere Men #1 may be one of the most thought out, impressive total packages for a single issue that I’ve seen in a long while.

Focusing on a “fab four” of scientists, Nowhere Men introduces us to the entity known as World Corp., the company formed by these four rock stars of science.  Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange and Thomas Walker. As the book opens, we’re introduced to them in their early days and instantly are given a primer on who they are and where they’re coming from.  I don’t think I’ve read a comic book in years that has had it’s main players so fleshed out and thought through and then was able to bring the reader up to speed in such an efficient manner.  Within the first 4 pages of Nowhere Men #1 through the use of a single introductory page and then characters bios thanks to the “reprinting” of an old magazine article, you’re able to get to know these men and get a sense for what they’re capable of as the story kicks into gear and moves forward into the future.

With the characters established, the story of Nowhere Men #1 get the balance between revealing enough to draw you in and leaving enough to mystery to keep you guessing and wondering what’s to come next.  We get a sense of discord amongst our four main characters as the years have passed and World Corp. has become established.  There’s a sense of a threat and something dangerous to the world, while at the same time the idea of doing it in the name of progress, and perhaps profit.  Nowhere Men seems to be centered around the classic conundrum of “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”  While the idea of a boardroom argument may sound boring, the dialogue has just the right amount of edge and intensity to make you want to see it expand to more. It’s a similar feeling to watching Mad Men, at least for me, and enjoying the meeting scenes, watching each character play out their plan and angle towards their own goals.  Finally, the scene shifts to another location and we’re introduced to more characters in the midst of dealing with the the results of science experiment, presumably under the World Corp. banner. Clearly things are not going as planned and while this sequence is disorienting, it’s clearly meant to be given the cliff hanger ending, as we get a sense for the scope of what exactly is going on at World Corp.

Visually, Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire work in concert to establish the look of Nowhere Men with class. Bellegarde’s clean style and economy of line work is a natural fit for this type of story, while breaking out and delivering some absolutely mind bending work with a couple of impactful, jaw dropping double page spreads and an astonishing level of detail at various points within the backgrounds and other finer points of each scene’s settings.  If anything, this is a great start from an artist who’s work I haven’t seen before. There’s still some room for improvement, specially within his character acting and facial expressions, but if Nowhere Men #1 is any indication, Bellegarde has some great potential.  As always, the tone of the book is defined masterfully by Bellaire’s color work as she continues to rise to be one of the best colorists in the business.

One of the biggest aspects of Nowhere Men #1 that I absolutely adored was the entire approach to the design of the book. From the front cover to the back cover, every page is worth drooling over. There are no ads or supporting material, rather it’s 100% Nowhere Men, and within that, interspersed throughout the issue are some amazing design pieces that help to set the mood and are also functional in setting the pace and separating scenes.  From the aforementioned magazine article about the World Corp. founders, to a double page scene separator in the form of a World Corp. poster, to the back matter of another magazine excerpt of an interview with one of the World Corp. fab four, Nowhere Men is a well thought out, immersive experience that takes the design of a comic book to the next level.  If there is any doubt of  the value that you get for your $2.99 within these 32 pages, it should be put to rest.  Nowhere Men #1 definitely delivers.

What struck me about Nowhere Men #1 was that this has the makings of a great story that I would most likely be all over if it was a fiction prose novel. A little bit of science fiction, a little bit of Beatles-esque mystique, a touch of retro, a bit of business, it has the makings to hit many of my interests. But here is where we get to celebrate and praise the medium of comics, because if this was a novel, I’m sure it would be great but much of the design and mood and feel would be lost. Through the stellar design and art, Nowhere Men #1 becomes a complete experience that’s unlike anything else on the stands and it off to a great start.

Story: 5 / Art: 4 / Overall: 4.5

(Out of 5 Stars)

Comments

  1. B B says:

    Interesting. I really didn’t like this book. I admire some of the imaginative ideas presented here, but I just wasn’t down with the book. Bellegarde’s art struck me as a poor man’s Steve Dillon, saved by Jordie Bellaire’s excellent coloring.

    “Within the first 4 pages of Nowhere Men #1 through the use of a single introductory page and then characters bios thanks to the “reprinting” of an old magazine article, you’re able to get to know these men and get a sense for what they’re capable of ”

    This really bugged me, and maybe I’m just being a nitpicky jerk (nitpicky jerk comics fan? Nah) but I thought it was cheating. Let me get to know the characters through the story, don’t just come out and give me blocks of text telegraphing their personalities.

    Sorry to be drag this into the neggy zone. Let’s all just agree that we live in a magical time full of a diverse range of comics where everyone can find something that tickles their fancy.

    • Ron Richards Ron Richards (@ronxo) says:

      I can understand that complain but with the amount of effort put into the layout of the 2 pages, I have to think that its a calculated decision to flesh out the experience of the book. Given the page limit of a single issue, the info that got across in the bios that could be difficult to get across within the story and the elegance of the layout, I had no problem with it – in fact I think it enriched the read

    • Neb Neb says:

      And if you notice, it was a bio of them back in the day, and the story is told from the present day. There’s obviously been some character change and shift from what’s on those pages, and I was very curious about what happened in the past and how those changes affect relationships today. I think it was a good call.

    • Dean B. Dean B. says:

      I agree. I’d had high hopes for this book but after reading the first issue, I too am feeling a little let down. I just didn’t enjoy it very much. It jumped around between the past, present and a separate story line a bit too much for me so I wasn’t able to get much of a feeling for who the characters are (outside of Simon Grimshaw that is. Antagonist much?).

      Bellegarde’s art is great in a way, though the “Steve Dillon approach” really isn’t my thing either. I thought Dillon’s stuff was great with The Punisher series done with Ennis but it helped downplay the violence there in a productive way. Here Bellegarde’s approach just seems to downplay the tension in moments where it should really be there.

      Overall just not my type of book, I guess.

  2. B B says:

    Maybe I should just read it again.

    • “Focusing on a “fab four” of scientists”

      Really? I understand that the comic was meant to be focusing on them, but they were only in the comic for two pages.

      I really didn’t like this book at all. I’m shocked it’s getting so many great reviews.

  3. Will Magnus Will Magnus says:

    I pre-ordered this and can’t wait to check it out!

    Oh, and can we just give Jordie Bellaire an Eisner and/or Harvey already? I’ve never had a favorite colorist before and would be willing to buy a book just because of a colorist.

    • I am the same as you on the pre-order set-up so much so that I’ve bought issues 1 – 4, I know no-matter what this will be a series that will definitely tick my box!

  4. kennyg kennyg says:

    Picked it up despite this being a huge week for me, and I missed last week due to the holiday. This is #2 in the “to read” pile after Bedlam. Can’t wait!

  5. I just finished reading this, and I thought it was great. For some reason, as soon as I started reading it, I read it with actors in mind. Dade Ellis: Samuel L Jackson, Simon Grimshaw: Willam Defoe, Emerson Strange: Sir Patrick Stewart, Thomas Walker: James Franco, and Kurt: Patrick Warburton. The other characters I didn’t get much from, but those all just fit as soon as they were introduced. Reading them as these actors I think made the book even better. Can’t wait for the next issue!

  6. microwave25 microwave25 says:

    Ye this was a great first tease of an issue. There is so much potential for a some good storytelling here and the character development was excellent for a first issue. Already seem to have a great grasp of these characters, from their motives to their personalities.

    Exciting stuff but what did you expect…… it’s another Image #1, it’s gotta be good.

  7. Bendrix Bendrix says:

    Can’t wait to get my hands on this. Nate Bellegarde is such an underrated artist.

  8. Neb Neb says:

    I wasn’t planning on buying this, but the cover really grabbed me and a quick flip through at the store made me rethink my position. I picked it up, but haven’t had a chance to read it. Looking forward to checking it out though.

  9. hanson724 hanson724 says:

    Why didn’t I put this on my pull list? I was on the fence but now I really really hope my shop has an issue left tomorrow.

  10. Neb Neb says:

    Really enjoyed this issue a lot. Looking forward to more from this one.

  11. wushugushu says:

    Based on an interview i read it seems that the 4 scientists are not the main characters of the story..
    Excited to see where it goes

  12. Apotheosize Apotheosize says:

    Loved this book….thought it was compelling and a new twist on super science

  13. J-Nel J-Nel says:

    Great review, Ron! I’m glad I tried this out at you and my LCS’s recommendation.

    This was an incredibly efficient first issue, with just 3 scenes and some faux literature the base of the narrative’s world was established and 3 compelling hooks have been cast for us inquisitive readers. I can’t wait to see what broke up (or is currently breaking up) the band, what the band did for the world from the first page’s “then” up until “now!”, and just what’s going on with those folks in space.

    I’d only read Stepehenson’s “Long Hot Summer” with Jamie McKelvie before this and although good, it was a very different story from what we got here and I think his editing experience along with being surrounded by such influential talent of late has most likely served him well. I wasn’t intially a fan of the art but I’m becoming of the mind that Bellaire can make anyone look like a superstar and I either warmed up to it because of her or because of the tight storytelling and brilliant character acting it has on its own. All around this is a great book and a fantastic capper to what has been a banner year for Image…