Art – Rod Reis (@)
Letters – Troy Peteri (@)
Reviewed by Jesse Bowden somewhere over New Mexico.
As Edward Madigan floats motionless through space, the visor on his spacesuit begins to crack. He regains consciousness long enough to utter the name, “Annabelle” just before his suit vents out. Edward then finds himself adrift in a sea of shattered glass just as a star rises over a foreign planet.
The publisher of sci-fi stories like Saga, and noir stories like Fatale, now presents the sci-fi-iest & noir-iest comic book of the year, Hadrian’s Wall. The newest series from Image Comics and OSSM Comics, features the creative team from C.O.W.L.: Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel share writing duties while Rod Reis handles art and Troy Peteri is on letters. The harmony between these creators is abundantly clear as Hadrian’s Wall #1 sings.
The series was first announced at Image Expo in 2015. Higgins described Hadrian’s Wall as, “a locked-door murder mystery in outer space.” The series focuses on Simon Moore, a pill-popping math enthusiast, as he investigates the death of Edward Madigan, the aforementioned astronaut who married Simon’s ex-wife. To close the case, Simon will have to travel to Hadrian’s Wall, a spaceship parked somewhere on the other side of Neptune. Higgins said, “this is a story about broken relationships—what tears people apart, and what it takes to bring them back together.”
In this first issue, Higgins and Siegel cover a lot of ground. It’s established that conflict and then collaboration between the US and Russia led to space colonization. But now a new Cold War is brewing between Earth and its largest space colony. This reality looms heavily on cast of characters that are interesting but unfortunately mostly Caucasian. Readers see Simon’s daily life in a futuristic version of Seattle that draws clear inspiration from Blade Runner. The cause of Simon’s pill addiction is immediately clear as he attempts to numb the pain of his cold and dreary world. Reis uses a strict panel structure and a pale color palette to convey a sense of dull lifelessness. When Simon is asked to investigate the horrific death of his ex-wife’s new husband, we are able to glimpse into the history of their relationship. Happier times between Simon and Annabelle are filled with oranges and pinks and there are no panel borders. In these moments, and through out the issue, Reis’s art sets the tone of the story.
This can’t be overstated – Hadrian’s Wall is a beautiful comic. Fans of Phil Noto or Kevin Wada will be overjoyed to see the realistic figures and stylish costumes. Artistically, Reis does most of the heavy lifting but the contributions of Troy Peteri should not be ignored. He uses harsh phone calls and Tom Petty lyrics to underscore the sense of loss in Simon and Annabelle’s failed relationship.
To the point of over-saturating its own market, Image Comics has established itself as the place for creators to tell science fiction stories. However, some are better than others and Hadrian’s Wall is at the top of the list.
Buy It – This is a fantastic first issue! The creative team is telling a story that is both ambitious and personal which can be a difficult balancing act. I do think it’s important to point out that there is only one person of color in this issue. Given the intergalactic scope of the story, I find that to be particularly problematic. That said, I really enjoyed Hadrian’s Wall. It is a stunningly beautiful comic that is definitely worth your time.