Review: 24 Underground #1

I never got into 24. I watched the first six episodes of the first season and while it was enjoyable the formula of constant drama and the gimmick of it all… wore my out quickly. Why then did I check this issue out? I obviously have no idea where the series ended or what it could possibly do upon its return, but here I am having read it. Two words: Ed Brisson. I could add Michael Gaydos to that as well, but I’m already familiar with his work and pretty much knew it was going to be pass/fail for the most part. With Brisson though, he’s a diamond in a rough. Publishers have noticed him and are beginning to take to him more and more as a freelancer, but readers are still a bit behind. He’s had some breakout success, but he hasn’t put out that one story that everyone latches on to. I’m thankful for that. It means that he hasn’t been broken by the comic system and is still putting out great issues and interesting ideas, but more so all the praise is well deserved. Look at his titles at Boom; his presences was instantly felt upon arrive. Then there’s his Image work which is worthy of an entire paragraph of its own. I should probably get to the issue though right? I read the issue because of Brisson and he did not make me regret it. In fact I was left looking forward to the next issue and an itch to check out the show again. Yeah, that’s when you know you’ve successfully adapted something, when the readers want to check out the source material to tide themselves over until your next issue.

The story beings in Odessa, Ukraine which if you follow the news makes this a topical setting indeed. Two thuggish looking men are waiting in the darkness for someone to arrive. The unlucky bastards name is Roman and he’s not only late on a payment, but he bailed on the meeting leaving our two gangsters holding their dicks in the wind. They’re none too happy about it and if you can’t figure it out Roman pays with his life.

24_01-cvrRI copy1Why is this important? Well we meet Jack Bauer or Borys as he’s now known. He’s working on his Russian with his Russian girlfriend as they make breakfast. We soon learn that Roman is kind of a part of Jack’s sorry Borys’ new family as is his boss Petro another sibling of the deceased and brother to Jack’s girlfriend. Roman’s problems become Petro’s as his family is threatened unless he makes a shipment disappear before leaving the dock that he runs. Borys being Borys… decides to help.

This is one of the better comics that IDW has published all year. 2014 has been terrible for adaptions, but this one is the complete package. You don’t need to know Bauer’s character to understand Brisson’s take on him. Brisson will make you understand the character and his situation by the end of the first issue. The dialogue is rich and believable; the characters never get annoying and overall come across as real people talking to one another. Brisson nails every aspect of this story outside of the characters as well.

I said in the beginning that Michael Gaydos was pass/fail, but that’s not quite true. What I meant by that is either I was going to look at his style and know if he had grown as an illustrator or regressed. The artwork for 24: Underground is some of Gaydos best. He’s grown as an illustrator and is now in command of the page like never before. Previously his artwork had a touch of A Scanner Darkly to it, but with heavier shadows. Now his art is not only photorealistic, but cinematic. This comic looks more animated than illustrated it’s that dense and stylized.

This was a surprisingly good issue. I really didn’t expect anything other than a half-baked attempt at capturing the gimmick from the show. Maybe that’s how it will come off to some, but being that I didn’t follow the show I found this issue to be well-plotted and entertaining.  If like me the show wasn’t for you, but you love action and drama then you should definitely check this issue out.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Ed Brisson Artist: Michael Gaydos Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/23/14