The first issue of any comic can be difficult. Everyone has so many demands and expectations for what they like to read that I imagine it’s very difficult for creators to figure out what to include, what to change and what will continue to set them apart. For instance, some people hate origin stories, while others enjoy them. Some want a mystery to be built up and teased, others want a cliffhanger every issue and so on and so forth. Much like a TV pilot, we should all get in the habit of expecting nothing from a first issue. A story is never about how it starts, but rather how it ends and is built between those two points. I have read many great beginnings only to be disappointed by the end. Really the only expectation you should have is that the issue will entice you enough to come back for the next. At the of the day that should be every creators goal.
More and more I find myself asking that question when I review anything, would I come back for more? Let’s hold on to that for a minute while we talk about the issue.
Rebirth of the Gangster follows Marcus; the story line is even called “Meet the Family” with the chapter title being “Marcus.” It’s safe to say that we’ll probably follow different characters from the family. He’s giving a speech about his father for some fancy event or benefit. He leaves after talking to his mom because he doesn’t want to be there and plays his role and leaves with a friend. On the street a bum asks them for money and for some reason this conversation goes on and on until the bum says something that triggers Marcus’ memory.
The problem with this is that we’re still learning how the comic is telling its story and since there’s not a big difference between present Marcus and past Marcus, it took me a while to figure out that it was a flashback. The art doesn’t help with this either as it doesn’t present any visual cues and there’s no caption to help either. What’s worse is that it flashes to a different point in the future, then back to the flashback and then back to the present. To be clear it goes present, flashback, flash-forward but still back, flashback, present, cliffhanger.
The cliffhanger didn’t really work for me either. It’s a picture and it reveals something about the story to us. That part I get, I just don’t know why the person would have it queued up and ready to go after committing a crime. Seems like a bad idea to have identifying elements on your person when trying to conceal your identity while committing crimes. If it wasn’t for that break in logic it would have been better. Hell, having another flashback would have been better.
The story struggles with its structure and pacing. The entire opening seems pointless. It doesn’t establish anything about the plot and really just introduces the parents. If say the next issue opens at the same scene and reveals something else, then that’s cool, but otherwise it doesn’t do anything for the story by being there. Obviously I address the confusion in the timeline and bouncing back and forth too much. It really got confusing until I read it a second time and pieced it all together.
While the art is detailed and fairly clean in its presentation, its missing a lot of personality. The reason I couldn’t tell that Marcus was younger is because he was wearing the same “who cares” expression on his face. There just needed to be more of a visual cue that something had significantly changed. As for fixing the personality of the art, I don’t know. It felt like it was there, but not participating. It wasn’t adding anything to the story but rather providing the figure for the world to be placed next to. It’s good art, but it’s not doing anything for this story.
Now were at the point in which I ask myself that question above every review. With Rebirth of the Gangster I just don’t know. There’s problems with this issue and I don’t necessarily thing they’ll all be fixed with the next chapter. At the same time, I’m kind of curious to see what the second issue will actually do because there’s not much of a setup to show us that. This issue, in a lot of ways stands alone. The other kicker is that I didn’t find this issue it found me. Ultimately, I think I would give it another shot, but that second issue better do something to keep me.
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Rebirth of the Gangster #1 Writer/Letterer: CJ Standal Artist: Juan Romera Self-Published Price: $1.99 Format: Digital
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