Where is Jake Ellis #1

by deerinthexenonarclights

I was late to the party with Who is Jake Ellis?, reading the story sometime after the trade was released ( which was a fair few months after the series debuted due to delays) but I loved it nonetheless, almost glad that i had so I could devour it whole in one extended sitting. It was an incredibly exciting book but one that I wasn’t completely satisfied by; the ending, while fitting didn’t exactly feel final and this is what held me back. That niggling feeling was, however, put to rest when I spotted on the book’s spine an embossed number one. A quick email to the book’s surprisingly open* author Tonci Zonjic later and my suspicions were confirmed, my worries were put to rest. This wasn’t over.

Of course, as all Star Wars fans know, you have to be careful what you wish for; sometimes getting sequels to great things isn’t actually as cool as you may imagine. Who is Jake Ellis? could certainly become the original origin story for a really cool ongoing character, but it could just as easily become a comic book regret, the sequel could cut and counteract the original by removing what made it work: the mystery. Is it? Does it? Given the topic I think that it’s only fitting that I put you through a moment of tension before you find out.

* Where is… wasn’t officially announced until months later and yet even with – or perhaps because of – my complete lack of press ability I managed to pry the news of him.

The story in Where Is… issue one picks up soon after the original series ended but the book itself starts even earlier, the first thing you see upon opening it is an extensive ‘Previously On…’ constructed entirely out of pages from the comic’s past; on the next page you see the stunning outline of a Six against a shadowy background and together these two tell you that while this may be a new number one the series has a history that it hasn’t forgotten. Think of this then as Jake Ellis Season Two; a continuation of the story, style and level of quality established earlier on.

This though should come as no surprise to you, as it didn’t to me. I really should have just trusted in the team behind this book because both Tonci and writer Nathan Edmondson are as talented and precise a duo as the one whose tale their Book is telling; they are highly trained operatives who know just what to do in any situation and have the skills required to actually do it. What struck me strongest about this issue though is something that Edmondson has developed as a sort of trademark and that is the trust that he has in his artist. The panels without dialogue outnumber those with and so it is solely up to Tonci’s images to tell the story that Edmondson has crafted in text.

Those who read the original series will know that his trust here is not misplaced, Zonjic is peered perhaps only by Nathan’s Dancer collaborator Nic Klein when it comes to crafting comic art that serves as both stunning static images – with coloring, composition and content to match any print or single picture – and seamlessly splays the suspenseful and sometimes schitzotic action of the series out in front of you with the clarity of cinema.

Schitzotic is an interesting word – and perhaps not a real one – to use when describing action; normally one would assume it to be an insult but here I use it another way, not as a critical adjective but in its literal sense. Who Is… was built around the mystery of the titular Man’s identity – Who was he? What was he? And how was he inside Jon Moore’s head? – and though these questions were answered that isn’t the end of the idea’s importance. Edmondson has imagined a whole new host of issues that stem naturally from the original concept and these, more so than the action, are what fascinated me about this issue. Zonjic’s rendering of them – which is hard to describe without spoilers – is the best stuff that I’ve seen him do and are a real selling point for drawing digitally.

Though because it is scripted like a sixth issue, because it is so sparse and because mystery plays such an importance role in building its suspense it’s hard to truly comment on the story of this comic. The ideas are there, the action is intense, the characters are given more emotional content than one might expect this early on and yet I’m not sure that I could truly say just what all these elements come together to form. After the rush of reading a new issue of Ellis though I’m not really worried about that kind of thing; Jon may advise that we trust no one, but I feel pretty safe in the guiding hands of Edmondson and Zonjic.

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