Comeback is a clever title for this book because it has so many relevant meanings: it is a time travel story, one in which men are hired to ‘come back’ in time to save friends, family members and prominent figures before they die (provided that the death occurred within the seventy-something day period of the past that current science allows travel to), it will without a doubt feature one or more characters making a ‘comeback’ before it closes (and the seeds are set for some in this first issue) but most of all this is a comic that you will want to come back to, not only next month for the second issue but minutes after you finish your read through of the first. See, Comeback is a complicated comic in the best possible way; it’s a puzzle with compelling individual pieces that seem set to come together in a really stunning way.
I may potentially try and make some predictions about that later but first i should deal with what we are actually given on the page. The first thing that grabs you as you open the book is the way that Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire have illustrated it, which is to say beautifully. Walsh’s linework has the same short, sharp style as David Aja; his characters scowl and smile in that same, almost impressionistic way, where the features important to the emotion are detailed and those that would distract are discarded. His backgrounds though are not simply facades, they are deep and fully rendered; grounding the characters in a gritty reality.
Jordie’s colors though change both of these traits in interesting ways, calling to mind another amazing artist: Sean Phillips. The flat, muted color schemes that he constructs for each scene consistently captures and conveys their specific, often maudlin moods masterfully while the almost cell-shaded style used to apply these schemes suits the cartoony side of the lines immensely. I wasn’t aware of either artist’s work before this but will be seeking them out from now on based solely on this one issue of work; Aja and Phillips are not names that I drop lightly but here it is well deserved, the issue worth buying for art alone.
Of course there is another, less literal, artist involved in the book – Mr. Ed Brisson, its author – but despite his being the are with which I am actually familiar critiquing the script of this comic is difficult to do. With an image you can tell instantly whether or not you like it – its illustration, its illumination – but writing can take a little more time and in this case it will take more time than this single issue allows; the story isn’t structured to be entirely satisfactory at this stage.
See, if I wanted to be harsh I could comment that the concept is not coherently spelt out within the confines of the comic itself. I could also say that the billing of the character’s is a little complicated; that it is unclear occasionally who is who and how they relate to each other. Similarly I could critique the climax for being a twist without context and thus one that doesn’t cause too much of a reaction. The thing is though, if I were to sincerely say any or all of these things now I would soon come to regret it because while the issue is occasionally unclear this is intentional; Comeback is a mystery comic and so it is structured with the questions at the front, where they should be held and their answers will come later.
I am so sure of this because of the way that Brisson writes what we do see. You can tell by the way that the characters talk to one another, the relaxed and real rhythm of their dialogue, that this is a world Brisson knows better than the one he actually lives in. He doesn’t use pages of context setting exposition because he and the characters already know all of that information and so its inclusion would be somewhat illegitimate. He doesn’t need to explain anything to himself here because it’s all been written down elsewhere and if we want an answer we’re going to have to find the clues and figure them out for ourselves; he has faith that we can. There is a confidence in his construction that I find supremely comforting as a reader.
The concept of Comeback alone sold me on it as a series, simply seeing this company go about its business would have worked for me, but what Brisson and company have constructed here has the potential to be so much better than that. I have no idea what the future holds for this series but given the strength of this issue, its foundation, I have faith that it will be great. Screw going back, I wish I had a time machine that could take me forward just so I could read the next issue and see for sure. Science may have let us down on that front but Comeback certainly doesn’t.