By Laramie Martinez
I went into Ether #1 cold. I knew Matt Kindt was writing it, but I had no idea who the artist was or even the premise of the comic. I have to say, it’s nice when you get lucky and stumble on a good comic. Part portal fantasy, part scientific detective story, Ether is a promising series showcasing the strange talent of writer Matt Kindt and far out style of David Rubin.
In this inaugural issue we meet Boone Dias, a scientist and researcher who is in the process of researching the fantasy world of Ether. It is implied that he has been to the world several times before and has inadvertently solved a number of crimes for the local government. But this issue is where all that changes, as he teams up with Glum, a gatekeeper for the realm, to solve a murder of a very special city official. There are elements of fantasy, science fiction, and a little bit of a buddy cop vibe in this issue. The world building is done at a rapid fire pace, Kindt allows Rubin to do most of the heavy lifting. Most of the information we receive about the world is gleamed from the art. I think this approach works well for the issue. We spend less time getting to know that world via dialogue and more time exploring it visually. The little bit of exposition in the beginning is done pretty well, it doesn’t slog on forever and we get to what will be the meat of this arch about halfway through the issue. I like that we didn’t have to wait all the way to the end of the issue to find out what the main conflict is going to be. I also liked that Kindt didn’t stop there. Just because we get to the meat of this mystery halfway through the issue, it doesn’t mean the ending is any less surprising. By the end of the issue, Kindt has already woven several layers into this story.
David Ruben’s art is a combination of all the things I love in comics. Fantastical monsters, sprawling cityscapes, and well designed, expressive characters. When you add that he uses color like he gets it from an easel dipped in acid, it makes for a truly unique experience. He doesn’t shy away from work either. These are intricate panels with lots of small details that immerse the readers in the world. Rubin also matches the tone of the story with his pencils and inks. Most artists will vary a color scheme when doing a flashback, but Ruben goes the extra mile, altering his pencils and inks in different panels for dramatic effect. It is a subtle difference that has a profound impact.
This comic is a buddy comedy, it’s sci fi, it’s fantasy and it’s got a surprising amount of heart. I’m looking forward to what this team is going to do with this series.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: David Rubin
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics