The Warning #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Edward Laroche
Colors: Brad Simpson
Letters: Jaymes Reed
Editor: Donald Hodges
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99 US
Writer/artist Edward Laroche offers a lot of elements in this opening issue that appeal to me as a reader. A realistic representation of a military operation, cynicism, flawed characters and artwork that blends an interesting mix of realism and style. That being said, I didn’t enjoy this story because Laroche essentially leaves out the most important element: that being an actual story. Everything about the first chapter of The Warning is designed to be mysterious, secretive, and on that level, it succeeds, but too well. The script is so nebulous, so drenched in vagueness, that by the end of the issue, I’d lost interest in the approaching conflict and the critical actions of the intense characters.
Something unimaginable and dangerous has occurred somewhere in the United States, and it prompts a covert government response that requires the reactivation of scuttled scientific project. It also requires men of action to enter the fray, ready to do battle and face the unknown. Experts say the scant evidence they’ve been to detect indicates the planet is about to be quietly invaded, and the U.S. military will not let that stand.
Laroche is clearly pleased with the patch he’s designed for the specialized military unit involved in the mysterious mission unfolding in this series. He keeps hitting his audience with “Die with Honor,” “Operation All Weather” and “Gladiator Two Six” over and over and over, and it adds little to the story or even the atmosphere of the story. A single, simple closeup on the patch on a soldier’s gear early on would have been enough, but he uses the image as a chapter break. I realize the effect is meant to be daunting, but it comes off as redundant instead.
I really enjoyed Laroche’s line art. His work here strikes me as a cross between the styles of Phil (Daredevil) Noto and Greg (Low) Tocchini. He boasts a loose style, but his strong eye for anatomy and movement convey a realistic look, as does the detail he brings to the military vehicles and backdrops. The looseness in his style, though, instills an airy quality as well that’s in keeping with the introspective and philosophical aspects of his script. Brad Simpson’s softer colors in the early scenes in the issue reinforce that more human quality in what purports to be an unreal plot.
I found the soldier’s internal dialogue about reincarnation contrasted with his laser focus on what will clearly be a violent objective to be interesting. The juxtaposition of Dr. Freya Lin’s self-destructive tendencies with the notion that her expertise and knowledge will be vital to the survival of the whole planet to be clever as well.
Writers such as Greg Rucka and Nathan Edmondson have always impressed me in the past with their ability to include convincing military and espionage jargon in their scripts, and Laroche appears to have a similar penchant and skill in that regard. However, those other writers know to balance that genuine-sounding dialogue with enough exposition to give the reader a passing sense of the emerging plot. Laroche doesn’t accomplish that here, save for a bombardment of exposition at the end of the issue that still fails to convey what our unnamed soldier boy and Dr. Freya Lin are meant to be doing. I found that sense of inside baseball to be thoroughly alienating, and it’s a shame, because I think there’s some strong craft here that’s eclipsed by that major misstep. 5/10