Upcoming Death Orb #1 is an Apocalyp-Tech Win
Story/Letters: Ryan Ferrier
Art/Cover: Alejandro Aragon
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
World War III has come and gone, and in the wreckage of what’s left behind, one man embarks on a desperate quest to find his wife and son.
He looks pretty cool while he’s doing it, too.
Death Orb #1 doesn’t skimp on the badass action, and its quick pace is just right for a first issue. It’s got great style, minimal exposition and enough hat tips to popular media that’s come before (Road Warrior, Judge Dredd, Grendel Tales, Near Dark) without leaning too hard on anything in particular.
Ferrier strikes a great tone with Rider (ha). His voice is the only thread we have through this first issue, and I appreciate when and where he decides to use it. In action, he’s a man of few words – alone, or with his trusty new, uh, “companion”, he can wax on a little. We don’t know much about Rider or who he is, just what he’s missing and how he’s going about getting answers, so his talkative moments are our window into his psyche. And if I were riding a motorcycle across the remnants of civilization hunting for my family, I’d get a little quippy in the interim. It’s also a nice contrast to Father’s ponderous and mysterious cult propaganda that’s keeping the citizenry in their place – for now.
Aragon’s style is perfect for this genre. This world is coming apart at the seams, and you can either detail it in the extreme or sketch its edgy, tenuous grasp on reality. The team goes for the latter, and it really works. Streets and alleys fade into O’Halloran’s hues with some well-placed pops of neon or background characters. There’s just enough in each panel to keep you interested, and the layouts serve the fragmented nature of the story very nicely. Rider’s physique is another clue as to who he is or might have been before all of this – no hulking muscle-bound warrior here. He’s rangy, youthful and explosive, with hawk-like features and a successful trend of shooting first. So far.
As for letters, Ferrier’s font choice creates enough movement to complement what’s happening on the page without taking up unnecessary space. Gently rounded “I”s and “A”s balance angled, slashed “E”s and “N”s. It’s narrow, but not overly so. The whole typeface curves to the left slightly, which creates movement and tension without needing larger balloons. Overall, a nice finish on the cool stylings the book aims for, and it’s unobtrusive if you want it to be – exactly what lettering should do.
Desert-like skies contrast beautifully with shadowy purples and blues of strange, blasted city landscapes. It’s a comic take on an O’Keefe palette, a nice balance of dreamy Western warmth and urban cyber wreckage. O’Halloran’s work here is a great example of how just a few hues or one gradient can go miles to keep a piece’s mood without obliterating finer linework or details. There are shadows where there need to be, but each page is livened up with a pop of color in an inset panel, or a glint of light off of Henrietta or Rider’s goggles.
Death Orb will only span five issues, so we’ll see if we’re going to unravel the true nature of this flavor of apocalypse or if we’re just going to take a wild ride around its borders. Either way, I’m excited for what’s to come.
Catch Death Orb #1 in stores on October 3rd, also available for pre-order now at your LCS (AUG180368). Get to it!
Mystery and intrigue! Apocalyptic death cults! Cool motorcycles! Death Orb #1 sets high stakes – and meets them – in this fun first installment.