The Meld! Remember this place and its inhabitants. From the point you flip open the opening pages of creator owned Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson’s vision of another dimension you knew you were in for a fun and thrilling ride. This is an awesome debut by these two highly talented individuals. Collecting the first five issues of Dark Horse’s latest must read, E8ight tells with great originality, the story of Joshua, a chrononaut from the future. He is a time-traveller who travels to the Meld, an inhospitable dimension in order to save his wife from a life threatening disease. In order to do that however, he must kill someone. Knowing the potential consequences (everything will change upon his return), Joshua accepts. There’s a lot to like about the lead character of Joshua. There is a certain amount of grit to him that for me reminds me a little of Green Lantern, Guy Gardner and Han Solo.
Arriving at the Meld is where things get very interesting. The Meld is more of a dimension than a place in time. It’s a place or idea that co-writer Johnson described as a Bermuda triangle type of mysterious place that exists. Because there are no set rules in this setting, Johnson and Albuquerque can let loose their imagination. And let loose they do as you read further.
As a reader, you are thrust into the heart and actions of the story from the get go. I mean there’s a dinosaur in the first few pages. Throw in some Nazi’s and what is not to be intrigued by? Seeing the dinosaur reminded me of the Polar Bear in the TV show Lost. It didn’t belong then and yet it blew viewers minds. That’s the exact feeling I had here. Personally, I love stories that take such a bold approach. The only drawback would be if they couldn’t keep up with that momentum. I’m happy to say E8ight not only keeps up that momentum but also leaves you at its conclusion, wanting and needing more. Joshua finds himself trapped in what I can describe as a combination of the past, present and future with no memory or means to get back to the people who sent him out in the first place. He must also stay alive long enough to not only complete his mission but to save his wife. It’s a compelling premise to say the least.
The art is nothing less than stellar. It is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It’s the type of art and style that draws the public in who’s searching for a new treasure to discover. It separates itself from all the others that are stacked side by side at your local comic book shop. Artist Rafael Albuquerque, the man behind the popular American Vampire series, does so much with very little in terms of a color palate. E8ight is rendered in very basic colors (orange, blue, green, purple and a hint of red every now and then) and yet they convey a range of emotions as well as give purpose to time and/or location. Couple that with the brilliant co-writing by Mike Johnson (DC’s Supergirl) makes this not only a visual winner for its distinct visual style, but also a stunning story to consume.
The dialogue by Johnson is as sharp, snappy and quick witted as the lines and illustration are by Albuquerque. It becomes the perfect marriage between writer and artist. This perfect marriage gives us the readers a wonderful setting and compelling characters that we quite haven’t seen before despite some of its potential influences as mentioned earlier. Albuquerque’s artwork is clearly the star here but make no mistake, the writing by Johnson here only enhances the visuals and treats the reader with intelligence that sometimes get lost when it comes to other creator-owned ventures. And sadly, even in the most established of comic book writers lose sight of this every so often.
If you’re a fan as I am of the sci-fi genre with a side order of a thrilling mystery, then E8ight is worth checking out. It’s quite a fascinating story and deliberate with its pacing. Any story that deals with the complexity of time travel always lends itself to potential problems. But I do love a good mystery and that’s what you really get here. That’s the bones of this story. At its conclusion Ei8ht is as solid a read as they come. The plot is straightforward and easy to follow. Yes there is a lot to absorb but between Albuquerque’s unique style and Johnson’s solid writing, E8ight might be Dark Horse’s new diamond in the rough. It has the makings of being a fantastic series to follow for years to come.
It’s always great to discover something new and different. The beauty of comics is that its reach extends beyond the norm of the traditional superhero stories that this medium has been built on. It’s great to go and find new and interesting characters, conflicts and locations/setting that could be as timeless and as relevant as any other we’ve seen and read before. I’m hooked after only five issues and I believe you will be too. There’s a bigger story here than just a man trying to save his dying wife. Here’s looking forward to what the next installment of five issues brings us.
E8ight will be available from Dark Horse Comics on October 20, 2015.