To start with I’m going to tell you to not read this review. Instead just go to the Kickstarter for The Work and support it because it’s worth your money. If you’ve decided to continue reading the review then that’s cool, I mean that’s why I’m writing it, but do support it. It’s a weird thing, sometimes you piece together things after you’ve already talked about it. For instance, it took talking to Steve on this week’s podcast to put all the pieces together for this comic. The Work is in reference to the wrestling term, “work” in which the decision for the match is already made. The winner is predetermined so it’s a “work” on the audience. That’s not the only marriage of comics and wrestling, two entertainment mediums that share a lot in common including their fanbase at times.
We meet Conner who is disturbed on his day off. On his way to work his narration explains the world to us. The average Joe buys into the superheroes that parade around the city, let’s call them our marks. The rich and others bet on the fights as a form of entertainment, we’ll call them smart marks. Lastly is The Party which is a secret organization of the mega rich that fix every fight. Conner is an agent and he orchestrates the fights to go down without a hitch and the way his employers want. If you know a thing or two about wrestling, this should all sound familiar.
Conner’s day off has been interrupted by his boss to inform him that he has a new person to train. We meet Scarlet who has apparently found out a bit too much about the behind the scenes of the superhero world, but talked herself into a job instead of an early grave. Her outlook on the world is positive while Conner's is jaded and bitter. In a way it's like a new wrestling fan talking to an old wrestling fan (bonus switch the world "wrestling" for "comic" and it still works!).
The Work is the perfect blend of wrestling and comics. Really if you know anything about the two then you’re going to love this book because you’ll be able to see how well laid out it is. As great as the concept is, the thing that will keep the story moving is Scarlet being the polar opposite of Conner. Their dynamic will be the thing that makes or breaks the entire series, but given how well they banter with each other in this first issue, I’d say we’re in for a treat.
The concept is great, but the dialogue and narration are equally deserving of praise. The dialogue is natural and uses swearing, in a way that isn’t annoying or gratuitous. I love swearing, but when a comic swears so much that you lose the sentence in the swear then you’re doing it wrong. The Work makes it fit naturally and not come across as a Tarantino movie.
In the end though the art is what sold me on this book in a big way. For an indie comic with just one creator, Andrew Sebastian Kwan, it’s a professional presentation. Kwan not only has a wonderful style, but he understands the medium and uses the gutters in interesting ways to move the story along. Even though there’s narration, the visuals are well-balanced with the narration.
The coloring though, oh man it's really good. Coloring and lettering are the unspoken heroes of comics and sure they’re getting more recognition lately from reviewers, but they’re still not given enough credit. Kwan does the coloring with flats by John Siozon and it’s some of my favorite coloring I’ve seen so far this year. It’s professional looking and honestly puts a lot of major comic releases to shame. Kwan’s lettering is also professional and a part of the visual storytelling. A great example is Scarlet’s alarm blaring and then the “Click” of her turning it off. The unspoken heroes are just straight up heroes in this issue.
If you stuck around this long than thanks, but really you should go check out the Kickstarter. I’m hopefully that Kwan will make his goal because it’s a book that I instantly wanted to read more of. Being a wrestling fan helped, but at the end of the day this is just a really interesting take on the superhero genre and that’s extremely difficult to do these days.
The Work #1 Writer/Artist/Letterer: Andrew Sebastian Kwan Color Flats: John Siozon Self-Published Kickstarter Link