Review: Nameless #1

The hype for this title has been going on for the last several months.  I have seen it in other comic books.  I have seen it in interviews with writer Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham.  And, I have seen it in several individualized articles both in print and online.  The subject matter is supposed to be creepy as hell and determined to send a shiver down your spine.  Using elements from ancient mythology, occult history, and other places where only the darkest dreams go.  The story… it’s supposed to be horrific.  The art… unnerving.  And the mini-series as a whole… it has been talked up to be a new view of how horror comics will be made in the future. The elements of evil are there and the story is ready to go.  HERE IT IS! So after reading this much anticipated and much talked about first issue that has been promoted to be groundbreaking, what are my thoughts?

Not so much right now.

And this just has me quite upset and extremely disappointed as I was super pumped at this reteaming of some seriously good Batman talent who with this series are planning to look deep into the dark side of mankind rather than simply the dark side of just one man.  I was so stoked and blazing at this possibility.  Now, it feels like somebody dropped a big ol’ bucket of ice water on my stokey blaze.  I feel really let down in this opening issue. It is my sincere hope (super sincere hope) that as this mini progresses, that my disappointment will change.  But as for now, I believe that the opening shot has rang out more like a cork pop gun as opposed to the magnificent cannon blast that I was expecting.

Nameless-#1-2-4-15Nameless #1 floats somewhere in between dream and reality, science and superstition (thank you Twilight Zone), sanity and insanity.  We are introduced to the lead character who just happens to be called Nameless as he apparently has given up his former name so not to fall under anyone’s control or influence.  Nameless seems to wield some seriously strong mystical power in this story as we are taken down a trippy journey in his hunt to swipe an artifact known as The Dream Key.  Along the way, we encounter horrific violence around the periphery, strange symbols, a veiled lady, and rather interesting humanoid types with my favorite being a group of deep sea angler fish men who work for the veiled lady.  All around Nameless, there are senses of real.  But it is quite hard to discern what indeed is real and what is not.  As things play out, we soon discover that for Nameless himself, everything is indeed real as he has one foot in the supernatural and one foot in the natural world.  This talent is a good fit for him as some seriously wealthy benefactors have a job for him that will pit the natural and the supernatural together.  There is a very real threat out there that has our planet in the crosshairs that looks to have some supernatural origins in it.  Only time will tell where this will go from here.  There are at least, some intriguing elements presented.

I get that Morrison is writing this mini in a way that is supposed to throw us off balance.  It is intentionally confusing as our heads are meant to have difficulty wrapping things around what is going on.  I understand that aspect of Morrison’s writing, but I simply did not like it.  We are thrown just too many aspects before they need to be presented.  Taking a slower approach I think would have worked better as we are asked to look at things that are much different than what we may be used to.  We need to take it in small bites, rather than forced gulps.

Artistically, Burnham draws Nameless in a psychedelic sort of way with the emphasis on the psycho part.  The imagery is brutal and intense and is aimed similar to Morrison’s writing to throw the reader off balance as they try to navigate this unknown territory.  Even so, I think despite the heavy images, that everything feels too jumbled up together.

With all that said, I still put a recommendation for Nameless at least for one more issue to see where things may go.  I think Morrison and Burnham just had a little misfire with #1 and I am not quite ready to throw the whole series out the door as of yet.  Let’s see where we go from here.  As far as openings go however, this one just doesn’t quite match up to where it needs to be.  Like Nameless, it is trapped somewhere in the natural and the supernatural.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Chris Burnham Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 2/4/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital