Review: Limbo #1

There’s been a few P.I. stories this year and in years past. Since Limbo is an Image title I can’t help but think of other Image titles that followed a P.I. formula of sorts. I can’t think of one in recent memory that I enjoyed which raised a caution flag when picking up Limbo to read. The unfortunate thing about the P.I. genre is the tropes associated with it. The damsel that walks in and needs help/protection. Inevitably there’s a twist and she either betrays the P.I. or dies. Sometimes it can still be enjoyable, but other times you wonder why this is the only storyline that people can tell. I’ll tell you right now, Limbo takes the tropes and twists them. It’s as if the creators understood that no one is going to buy that it’s a P.I. story without the tropes, but they didn’t want to rely on them too much.

We begin in a bar. Mr. Clay is there for the lizard on a stick which is apparently the best thing about the bar. His meal is interrupted by a phone call. The call is cryptic and strange. Clay doesn’t seem to understand it, but also can’t hear it over the drunk fishermen behind him. He calls them out and ends up in a fight and loses the rest of his mysterious phone call.

Limbo-#1From there we’re introduced to Clay’s life. He has amnesia and is trying to figure out who he is. Meanwhile he works as a P.I. His latest case is a singer that works for the cities kingpin of drugs. She saw some weird shit that she wasn’t supposed to and now she’s waiting for her boss to basically kill her. Cue the P.I.

What’s different is Clay’s approach. He’s smart, but not annoying smart. He’s quick to explain his plan to the reader which is so refreshing. It gets annoying when we have to wait for the character to be clever instead of just being included. In this first issue, Clay comes across as fleshed out and interesting. I’m curious about his amnesia because obviously the title of the comic makes me wonder if he’s already dead. It’s not until he tells us about his amnesia that the cryptic phone call makes sense. Someone knew him and knows that he’s there. It’s really strange, but I was very curious to see where it’s going to go.

The art is a huge part of the success of this story. The city has a New Orleans feel to it, but the coloring is neon like the 80s. In fact, there’s a lot of 80s elements to the story. Cassette tapes, punks and fashion. It has a great aesthetic.

The line work is clean and sharp and reminded me a lot of Jamie McKelvie’s style. Where it differs is the incredible coloring. Like I said, there’s some neon. Not all neon, but just a range of bright colors that give the series a distinct look. The other thing that the art does incredibly well, is build a world that feels alive. There is a real sense of this city as Clay wanders through it. The character designs are interesting as well. The main villain wears a Lucha mask which instantly got cool points from me.

As I said, there’s been a lot of P.I. stories lately. Mostly redundant stories that stick so close to the “winning formula” that it feels like a waste of time. Where Limbo succeeds is in taking that formula, but adding 80s analog technology and giving us a character that has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Usually I would say, “if you can stomach one more P.I. story” or something like that, but I really think that Limbo transcends the genre in a lot of ways and that helps make it a comic worth reading. Check it out this week.

Score: 4/5

Limbo #1 Writer: Dan Watters Artist: Caspar Wijngaard Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/11/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital

Like podcasts? Check out the CBMFP's coverage for Limbo #1!