Writer: Ivan Brandon
Artists: Mike Hawthorne (p), Rick Remender (i)
Red is the color of lust, resentment, and rage. Clinical studies claim that exposure to the color raises blood pressure. But, red is also associated with divine love. Thus, when readers enter the red-tinged world of RUULE: THE GANGLORDS OF CHINATOWN, the mood is immediately established. In this debut issue of a five-part story-arc by Ivan Brandon and Mike Hawthorne, a god-approved gang ravages its community, and heroes rise with matching ferocity. The result is a compelling 44-page post-apocalyptic story about the loss of innocence and the dangers of worshipping false idols.
As an introductory, this issue excels. The atmosphere is convincing and the characters distinct. And despite its cinematic ambiance, the gang members aren’t the stereotypical ones found in film. Instead, they function with purpose while collecting their god’s tribute. Furthermore, the gang mentality is efficiently explored. In one scene, a gang member plummets off the Golden Gate bridge. His friend freezes, horror-stricken. Quickly, other gang members ridicule his grief. So, the dead friend is forgotten, and a hate-hardened façade is restored. These brief insights into gang life reflect Ivan Brandon’s mature and quality storytelling. One weakness of the writing, however, is found in occasionally clumsy dialogue, particularly in an exchange between a hero and his unwilling damsel-in-distress. Additionally, although the subject matter dictates a brutal portrayal of events, one scene with a dissevered head is gratuitously violent and unnecessarily prolonged.
Ironically, this repulsive reality is alarmingly beautiful. With the help of inker Rick Remender and colorist Giulia Brusco, Mike Hawthorne creates stimulating visuals, which can stand alone in its portrayal of action and character. In fact, the first eleven pages of the story has no script. The art speaks for itself. This is an effective technique since readers must study the art, art which warrants that extra attention. In the opening pages where all is red, no words are necessary to understand the world’s pain. And the emphasis on a hammering rainstorm that dominates the first half of the book, further establishes the atmosphere as hostile and angry. But, many other elements are simply gorgeous—especially the scene where the gang races across the Golden Gate bridge. The colors and motion are enchanting.
Beckett Comics, the publisher of RUULE, is so confident in this series that it has shipped five free copies to more than 2,750 comic book retailers, so costumers can have advanced looks before buying. After reading this issue, it’s clear why the publisher is willing to accrue such promotional costs. With its thoughtful handling of character and—especially—superior art, RUULE #1 is a quality new series.
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