by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Werther Dell’Edera, Arianna Florean and Dave Sharpe
Synopsis: A man is given 48 hours to kill some dude or else Things will happen.
01. It’s a classic set-up. A man walks up to you, and give you a message. He’s a little vague on the hows and the whys, but one thing is clear: he wants you to do something, and he wants you to do something now. After the pre-requisite depiction of life-as-we-know-it, the “mysterious message” is a tried and true device, that propels us into a world of suspense and intrigue. Trouble is, since this is the type of story many people are already familiar with, a lot of weight is placed on the skill with which the writers pull off their tricks. Here, in The Mission, writers Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber (conjoined twins, I hope?) do a fairly solid job in setting up the situation and the rules that go with it. After a routine check up, Paul Haskell is delivered a message by a man by the name of Gabriel. Paul’s been selected for a mission, and that mission, is to straight up murder some guy in cold blood. But why? How? Gabe is not forthcoming, and so Paul does what pretty much any of us would do when told to kill some random dude by a complete stranger. Cock fighting.
Ah, no wait, wrong story. He goes home and hugs his family, forgetting about the whole random ordeal. In real life, this would be the end of it – the crazy man is forgotten, and you move on with your life. But in the land of fiction, that would make for one boring ass story – which is where the knife twists come in.
02. The writers do a good amount of lifting, taking both the reader and the protagonist to the point where we accept the premise of the book. These little nudges aren’t incredulous, and they are played without cheating the story, or brushing against some unrealistic expectations. By the end of the story, you get a vague sense of why Paul was given the name – but bigger questions immediately loom. Not only does the conclusion of this issue give the reader all they need to know about the book’s premise, it leaves just enough open so that they might come back for next month’s issue, so that they can further explore the concept and the world. If, however, you’re not inclined to do so after this issue, that’s cool too – the writers have concocted something that could easily be read on its own – a little short story about a strange and dire situation, with a beginning, a middle and end. Not a lot of comic book writers do this, anymore – which is a shame. A first issue shouldn’t just be the first part of your larger story – it should let you put your feet on the ground, allowing you to decide whether or not to continue based on a complete story. If I were to compare the issue’s style to anyone else’s openers, I would probably go with Brian K. Vaughan, who would often start his series with a complete story to hook you, before pushing you into some longer story bits. It’s a really nice thing to have in a first issue.
03. The art from Werther Dell’Edera and Arianna Florean is quite solid. Dell’Edera’s work isn’t what you’d be used to finding in regular superhero fare – which fits this series quite well. People aren’t drawn in that typical Dirk Squarejaw style, and the women aren’t all boob and curve, they just look like people – albeit, with a fairly loose style, that tip toes ever so slightly towards charicature. Not that you’ll be finding any exaggerated body types – more that you’ll find anger depicted with a line with no pupils. Not something people actually do, but with that slight exaggeration, emotion is quite easy to find in the work. He also does a phenomenal job with picking camera angles. A lot of this issue involves talking and some good old fashioned detective work, the action only hitting in the book’s closing scenes – and yet there’s a sense of momentum present in the art. You’re never bored, just staring at heads as they talk back and forth.
All of this work would be for naught if it weren’t for the colouring from Florean. The story is a dark one, and a lot of time, colourists have the tendency to darken their palette a little too much for what will eventually see print. The colouring here managed to keep the dark atmosphere, without turning the lights down too low. It’s a delicate ballance, but she pulled it off quite nicely.
Recommended if you like: Suspense flicks, 100 Bullets, and good comics.