RunLoveKill #1 (of 8)
Story by Jon Tsuei (@jontsuei)
Written by Jon Tsuei and Eric Canete
Art by Eric Canete (@ericcanete)
Color, Lettering, and Design by Leonardo Olea (@oleatv)
Cover by Manu Fernandez (@el_big_manu)
Review by Joey Braccino
One day, things will be different for me.
I just need to make it to that day.
Equal parts Final Fantasy, 1984, and Aeon Flux, Jon Tsuei’s RunLoveKill is a thrilling visual experience from cover to cover. The latest sci-fi dystopian comic from Image, RunLoveKill follows the story of Rain Oshiro as she desperately attempts to leave the oppressive Origami regime running Prygat.
To be perfectly honest here, I think most people will be attracted to RunLoveKill simply because of it’s stupendous cover. Artist Manu Fernandez channels Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy for his cyberpunk sci-fi inspired image of a woman (protagonist Rain?) in a dynamic stride carrying a big-@$$ gun. The grayscale illustration plastered on a white background is so visually striking that even the most noncommittal Comic Shop goer or Digital Library scroller will stop and take a look.
The opening 10 pages of RunLoveKill is, without a doubt, one of the most stimulating, stunning sequences I’ve read all year. The 10 straight pages of wordless panels juxtaposes a visceral, dynamic chase scene with an aggressive, stirring cello performance. I can’t quite tell from the figurework because of the violent shifts in perspective, but both scenes appear to feature the same woman. Artist Eric Canete choreographs the two scenes expertly, playing with close-ups and shifts in focus and jumping from scene to scene at exactly the right moment. Over the entire scene, the tic tic tic of a metronome keeps time, seguing directly into our primary narrative. The 10 page sequence climaxes into a gorgeous, tragic image that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Frankly, I’d recommend this book on this cold open alone. Seriously.
The rest of the book maintains the striking visuals as we shift to Rain’s story. Canete’s artwork is reminiscent of Emma Rios’ eccentric aesthetic, but Canete plays more with high-concept speculative design. Prygat as a world is clearly defined visually, with jagged edges and an ever-growing wall to ward off the “outside threats” that the Origami claim are out there. Rain herself has a delightfully cyberpunk feel to her design, making her a dynamic protagonist from the onset.
Unfortunately, aside from the visual experience (which again, may well be worth the price of admission), the scripting leaves much to be desired. Tsuei and Canete share writing duties, and we’re left with a string of fluffy, clichéd comments about wanting to escape and hating the oppressiveness of the regime. We never actually see or understand why Rain wants to escape or what the Regime does to oppress people—instead, we’re kinda just told. To make matters worse, we’re told primarily through Rain’s first-person narration, which furthers the whole “what exactly is the problem here?” criticism. The solicits for the book claim Rain is an assassin or somesuch crazyawesome back-story, but there is nothing in this first issue that even makes reference to it. We meet a few of her friends, but nothing really substantial. We’re left with a story that is a lot of visual flair with very little narrative weight.
Worth a look. Literally. RunLoveKill is one of the most striking visual experiences I’ve had reading comics. The story itself? Ambiguous and underwhelming as of the first issue. I do have a feeling Rain’s struggle against Prygat will escalate quickly in the coming issues, but damn are those first 10 pages really, really good.