The past is green, the present is purple and this review is by a select few from ComicBastards.com. That’s right it’s time for another group review! Remember when we didn’t have any and now we can’t stop coming together like all the Power Rangers for that one really shitty season they did… anyway before a tasteless joke is made, Ei8ht from Dark Horse is up this week and each reviewer is going to give their thoughts and a score. About the book:
Welcome to the Meld, an inhospitable dimension in time where Joshua, a chrononaut, finds himself trapped. With no memory or feedback from the team of scientists that sent him, he can’t count on anything but his heart and a stranger’s voice to guide him to his destiny.
This opening issue of Ei8ht is one of my favorite debuts of recent memory. It draws you in at first glance and doesn’t let you go throughout its duration. The beginning was very bold with just the four colors and their meanings and then it just throws you in with that being your only knowledge in the world of Ei8ht. I never really felt safe in my time with the book-right when you think something is going to slow down, the next sequence cranks it up to 11. Joshua is at the center of all this time-traveling commotion and I love the beautiful artwork that shows his expression as he’s battered around. The end reveal was great. It had me hooked and I can’t wait for next month’s issue.
The artwork is fantastic and I love the unique color scheme that coincides with the time periods. It could have been very cliché and gimmicky but I feel that it was handled very well and adds to the book rather than taking away from it. This makes other colors like the red in Nila and crew’s faces and Joshua’s blood really pop. Overall, I thought this was a fantastic debut and I can’t wait to find out more about the General and the Meld.
Ah comic books!! That was my first reaction to opening Ei8ht (which is a great title, but terrible to type over and over). It’s a book that has been constructed for the medium and I love shit like that. The reason being is that it’s something you can only get from comic books. Other forms of entertainment just can't ape it and while they all have their unapeable aspects, I love when a comic can be engaging and creative. Ei8ht challenges you from the get go. It tells you, “These colors do this” and then instantly confuses you by showing you two of those colors. It reminded me a lot of last week’s cleverness Divinity, but taken to a much higher level.
The story is confusing, I have little to no idea what’s going on outside of what's on the page and that’s the way it should be. It was like the first level of a video game in which you’re just thrown into it. On video games people keep playing, but on comics for some reason people go, “Oh there wasn’t enough for me to care to come back.” Well it was enough for me because I want to know what’s going on. I want to figure out the mystery and engage with this comic. I haven’t engage with a comic like this since Mind MGMT in which Matt Kindt presented three or four different ways to read the same issue.
If you love comic books, like they’re your "A" Number 1 Duke of New York, I bleed comics, comics rule everything around me… then pick up this issue. You may just love it. You may find it interesting and just okay, but explore damn it. What other medium do you get to do that?
Rafael Albuquerque is one of those creators that I can only name one title he’s worked on (American Vampire), but his work has always, always, always been top-notch. In the spirit of Albuquerque’s talent, I’m thrilled to see Ei8ht on the shelves.
I spent a lot of time trying to decipher things in this issue. The title itself is an interesting visual, but it’s probably the most infuriating thing I’ve ever had to type out; there’s an involved color code to the comic, which I would actually say is kind of genius, once we can see it in practice more; the reading experience mirrors Joshua’s confusion throughout, where we learn new things at exactly the same clip. It’s the old trick where you chop and screw a chronological story to make it more interesting (see also: Memento, that issue of Casanova with the two double agents in the graveyard, etc). It’s not a story that’s gonna shake you up or teach you new ways to tell them, but Albuquerque and co-conspirator Mike Johnson have what basically amounts to a good introduction. There are some plot threads we can follow (“Who is the Spear?”) and there are some obvious danglers (“HOW DO I KNOW YOU’LL HONOR OUR AGREEMENT IF I DON’T COME BACK??” “You don’t!” Very comic book-y, but very obvious).
Coming back to the color code, this is the only super new thing I’m seeing from this book. I don’t know if it’s been done previously, but it’s a good demarcation. When writing something with flashbacks, you assume there will be some sepia tones, or some narrative captions with dates, to let you know it’s not the present; Albuquerque and Johnson have cracked this code to make it immediately visually apparent where you are. Films use it a lot, but in comics, it’s usually just a matter of the past being black and white. All that to say, it’s refreshing.
Overall, I was a fan of the issue. Albuquerque’s art was on-point, and the world-building was interesting, if a little Trillium-ish. The writing wasn’t stellar, but there was no stutter-step, or any lack of confidence in the story. I have my footing now in this world; I can’t wait for them to really start telling the story.
The pretext pages of Ei8ht may lead one to believe that there’s a clear color-coded system in place to decipher all the different periods of time. According to those pages, “the past is green, the present is purple, the future is blue, the meld is something else entirely,” something else in this case meaning orange. However when I started reading the actual comic, I still had trouble navigating the temporal shifts. This is a result of not knowing what color in a given panel is the overriding one that determines the time period. For instance, later on in the comic we get confirmation that Joshua, our time-displaced dude, has spent the majority of the issue in the meld. It sort of makes sense given that all the exterior horizons have an orange hue to them. Within those same panels though, Joshua, the terrain and miscellaneous items are all colored blue, putting a level of uncertainty in me that did not add to my reading.
This might seem like such a nitpicky thing to focus on, but it did disrupt my reading and kept pulling me out of the narrative to flip back to that damn pretext page. I know it might seem obvious to others that it had to be the meld since we do get others scenes actually set in the future that are entirely blue, and also those scenes feature futuristic architecture (oh look, lack of 90 degree angles!) but that’s besides the point. The comic creators made a poor design choice that only confused me and not in an intriguing, on-a-good-day-Grant Morrison way. And while I enjoyed the comic’s story for what it was, it was the art by Rafael Albuquerque that proved the definite highlight, providing a sketchy but detailed style that recalls his American Vampyre work. I couldn’t invest in the narrative thanks to the impediment created by what should’ve have been a neat narrative tool. Maybe I’m just having an off day, a day of complete and utter whininess, and given that that’s entirely possible, I’m definitely gonna follow up with the next issue on what I know is the best of days, Katilsday.
Story: Rafael Albuquerque & Mike Johnson Writer: Mike Johnson Artist: Rafael Albuquerque Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 2/18/15 Format: Print/Digital
You can also hear our comic podcast, the CBMFP, talk about the first issue of Ei8ht!