Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
EDITOR’S NOTE: Potter's Field appears in stores this Wednesday, September 12
John Doe, as he is introduced in this first issue of Potter’s Field, is the anti-noir hero. Noir, from Chinatown to The Long Goodbye, emphasizes moral ambiguity. More often than not, at the end of the story nothing has changed; there’s no victory, no justice. John Doe, while he lives in a world of dark motivations and relative values, is the antithesis of noir in that he has setup his own moral code, regardless of the fluidity of others’. He seeks to bring justice to some, in the small ways that he can, even if it means nothing to the world at large. Because it means something to him.
The obvious question, one among many that come up through Potter’s Field, is why? For John Doe has set himself to an impossible task; he has taken to identifying the anonymous victims of Potter’s Field, the cemetery where New York City’s unidentified dead are buried. Simple math will tell you it is not possible for someone to identify victims that go into that ground as quickly as new ones arrive.
The story starts off in a seemingly rickety fashion as it begins with what appears to be the standard (and over used) narrative captions. But a few pages in, this is revealed to be someone who’s actually speaking to another person, not just heavy handed exposition. By this vehicle, the reader is introduced to one of John Doe’s agents. With such a large and impossible task before him, Does has assembled a motley and varied crew in order to help him with various aspects. Throughout this first issue, we are introduced to a number of these agents as Doe attempts to find the identity of a Jane Doe who recently committed suicide. While there isn’t enough room in this first issue to get to know any of the agents well, each of them has a unique voice that helps identify them in ways big and small. One of them is a prison guard who talks too much, another is a mortician who hates talk show hosts, then there’s the cop who has a taste for Ruth’s Chris’ steaks. Even the talk show host the mortician complains about is given a resounding personality that is looped into the story.
In addition to an impressive and interesting cast of characters, the plot of Potter’s Field is a serpentine one. I won’t go into anymore than that, other than to say, pay attention. It’s worth it.
At the end of Potter’s Field readers will be left with more questions than answers about John Doe and his mysterious mission. However, this first issue is told in such an entertaining fashion that readers will actually want to know more.
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