Image has announced a ton of new titles lately, but being a fan of Shane Davis’ artwork, I was definitely curious about Axcend more than other titles. The thing is, not every artist is a competent storyteller when it comes to dialogue and narration. In fact, I think the list of creators that can do both is shorter than the list of those who can’t. That said, I was dipped my toe into this series before getting in all the way. The story starts by following Eric, a teenage boy who we learn once had a twin brother. We find him a year after his brother’s death as he tries to help a very Peter Parker looking nerd from getting beat up by a stereotypical jock. After getting punched in the face Eric heads home and his mother is all too anxious to head to the cemetery. Eric informs her that he’s already been and heads to his room to play video games. We get the strong impression that his mother is a bit more focused on her dead son rather than the living son.
Eric turns on his video game which is called Axcend, points for using the title in the story in a non-annoying way. He’s told that he’s been selected for a beta test and he’s rather excited by that… until he feels his body swept into the game. He stands up and he can feel his body, but it’s not his body. He meets two other players and they begin to run through several game types. At the end, Eric finds himself in last place and when the beta ends he wakes up holding the controller on his floor wondering what exactly happened to him. We continue to see Eric’s life after that and obviously there’s more going on than meets the eye.
I have to say, I was taken in by this story. Obviously the idea of being in a video game world is nothing new, but the it’s the execution and modern take on video games that made this one work. Davis’ character designs would fit into the video game world, especially one that allowed customization. That only thing I’ll say about the video game segment, was that it ran a bit long and felt a little sparse on the content. We mostly get a montage of conclusions which wasn’t very rewarding.
The art is definitely the best part of the book, but I was actually impressed with Davis’ story and dialogue. Mark is a convincing character and there’s one scene in particular that he shines with his dialogue and attitude.
Davis’ linework is very clean and if you’ve seen his previous work on Earth One: Superman then you know he has a fantastic style for the superhero genre. Davis is very detailed as well. There’s never an empty background and the overall world feels and looks alive. With that comes the coloring. The coloring plays a huge role in the story. The video game world looks different from the real world and both worlds are vibrant and colorful.
Obviously if you’re a video game fan you’ll like this story a little more than others, but I was pleasantly surprised by the story. Like I said, not every artist is a storyteller, but Davis proves he has what it takes. I’ll be following this series from here on out and looking forward to see what he has to offer with the second issue of Axcend.
Axcend #1 Writer/Artist/Creator: Shane Davis Artists: Michelle Delecki, Morry Hollowell Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/7/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital