Nowhere Men #1
Written by Eric Stephenson
Art by Nate Bellegarde
Color by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Fonografiks
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)