Since leaving Moon Knight, the popular creative duo of Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey have been a sought after item. Why in just six short issues they basically rocketed to “fan favorites” with their take on the popular, but not very successful in terms of sales, character. Well Ellis swooped Shalvey away with a creator owned project, Injection, over at Image and now four of our writers are going to take a look at the book and give their thoughts and a score with our latest group review.
Once upon a time, there were five crazy people, and they poisoned the 21st Century. Now they have to deal with the corrosion to try and save us all from a world becoming too weird to support human life.
I’m often frustrated when a premiere issue gives just a few morsels to snack on without giving much of sense to the overall premise. Reading Injection, I tried to parse out what the characters’ motivations are, but it seems as if the creators think that that’s better left for future issues and instead focus this issue on several conversations where the reader knows very little about what the characters are talking about, a technique that’s great for its lack of lengthy exposition dumps but not so great for coherence. Despite lacking much of a sense of the characters’ desires, I did find the main leads compelling, and nuanced characters. Maria Kilbride’s transformation between her present self and how she once was does a great job to highlight the brain damage she purportedly suffers from despite retaining her incredible intelligence. In the present she seems to have a bit of temper that’s paired with a hankering for a sandwich that hopefully she gets by the time the next issue comes out while. Similarly, Robin Morel, the resident British Isles scholar, seems to have undergone a dramatic change from his initial optimistic disposition in his initial meeting with the cultural cross-contamination unit. Ellis does some great work giving both character distinct voices and refraining from reducing them to caricature. Both of them, and supporting character Brigid Roth appear somewhat drained in the present scenes, possibly as a result of the work they engaged in together.
Ellis knows how to spin a great conspiracy story, but unlike Trees this one didn’t have me searching online for its follow-up’s release. Killbride walking into a strange space where lightning strikes doesn’t do much for me without context about what her team’s work concerns. That’s also why the reveal of the syringe tattoos on people throughout the issue failed to elicit so much as an ooooh. It’s a tattoo of a syringe, so what? Without a doubt my favorite parts of the issue were the ruminations on English life in scenes featuring Kilbride and Morel. For me it did a great job of situating the reader in a non-American space, which I’m always eager to occupy whenever comic creators take the risk of focusing a story outside of the United States. Injection may take off, and become another critical success for Ellis as well as artist Declan Shavley. Maybe then, I’ll give it another shot.
We all know this is the most anticipated comic for months. The team says it all, so it as Dustin would say, it doesn’t really matter what I write. You’ll purchase a copy and judge it for yourself. So instead I am going to focus on two major things; Warren Ellis and his writing.
Trying not to spoil the comic, I tried to stay away from pre reviews of the series. Soon I realized that it is incredibly difficult to jump into an Ellis story without some background knowledge. Most of his series and especially his opening pages don’t make much sense. On one hand, I love it. It shows that a writer isn’t scared to start a story slow. He isn’t scared to confuse his readers. So without reading any material beforehand, you know they’re powerhouse companies that have done something wrong. You know the team behind it all feels remorse. And you know that same team is being coaxed into helping solve it. Other than that, it is a bunch of names and past relationships that we don’t quite understand. This is intriguing.
But then on the other hand, it’s flat out annoying. If you are busy, it is hard to keep up with every new comic event and new release. You happen to miss some along the way. And if you missed Injection and then decide to buy it based on cover or names alone, man you may have just screwed yourself. Now you must backtrack.
So I really can’t decide if I dig this writing style. For now, I am interested in Injection and the post-apocalyptic vibe. The questions raised bring you in because there are some things you do understand, so it is enough to keep going for now.
I was intrigued by a new Warren Ellis story, I read all of Transmetropolitan. It was recommended to me by a friend so I tried it, it took me a few issues to really get into it. Injection feels much the same, I read it, I enjoyed it but I'm not ravenous for the next one. I'll probably read this in the trades rather than month to month.
I like that it's based in Britain (being English and all), I look forward to reading what the American Comic Bastards think of it. The art style that really fits British countryside. There are a lot of acronyms used, only some of which are explained, this made the conversations more real. There were a few info-dump moments where characters gave more information for the sake of the reader rather than natural conversation, but in general the dialogue was good.
The lettering in this comic feels a bit strange to me, it's too crisp and clean which doesn't blend well with the muted colors and dour mood. Another thing that felt strange was the Welsh girl wearing blue (almost-futuristic) sunglasses on what is a (typically British) overcast day. Even though it's set in Britain, the numerous mentions of a sandwich were annoying, just because it is mentioned so many times.
A lot has happened since Warren Ellis launched his last creator-owned project, Trees. Luckily, Ellis still has plenty of The Future to mash-up with The Past to come up with a comic that’s incredibly intriguing in premise. Unfortunately, like Trees, it ends up muddying its story with information overload.
After the end of Trees and Moon Knight, I realized I was going to have to suffer through another Gillen/McKelvie scenario where I’m not wild about the writer, but this artist I love works with this writer all the time. Ellis and Shalvey are an excellent team on a technical level. They seem to understand each other’s heads, and Shalvey can bring to life the most technojargon passages from Ellis. They also seem to be adding Jordie Bellaire to their Comic Book Superteam, which makes this book shine even further. The flashback sequences have a flat coloring that plays well off of the present-day sequences, with their brushy, smudged colors.
Injection feels like the second issue of a really good series. You spend the whole issue trying to keep up with what you’re already supposed to know, and who these people are, and what the acronyms stand for (there should be an appendix for the amount of “I work for the Ministry of Time, which is a sub-ministry under FPI, which at one point was rebranded from...” It takes up a lot of character’s dialogue). As a first issue, though, it leaves me not too confused to hate it, and not too involved to love it. If it weren’t for Shalvey and Bellaire’s art, I would have thoroughly neutral things to say about it, but I will praise them all day.
The hook at the end of the issue is at least enough for me to come back to the series next month, but color me “cautiously optimistic” this time around.