This comic has a very high concept and because of that there isn’t a ton of “pay off” to the issue, but I can definitely see the smaller bits of coolness that are present in issue feeding into a larger “pay off” in the future. The series is follows the real life inventor Leon Theremin, but set in a fictional world… a kick ass fictional world.
At its core it’s a story about time travel and that means that the time line is fluid rather than being in a straight line. It kicks off with Theremin holding a gun on the Russian Chairman Vladimir Lenin and asking if he has any last words. We don’t get to hear those words because Theremin is quick to pull the trigger and shoots a ray gun that splatters and melts the Chairman’s head. Suddenly some KGB Temporal Camo bodyguards come out of the wall sending Theremin running. He’s not super worried, but he knows he doesn’t have enough distance between them before he makes his jump. They fall into the “Red” and Theremin spins around and kills the KGB bodyguards before finding his exit, which is the exact same scene we opened with. Theremin introduces himself to the reader as he kills the Chairman for the second time.
The story then changes pace and heads into Theremin’s not too distance past in which he discovered time travel and the device that he feels is also a musical instrument. Things are put in motion that makes sense with the opening, but it doesn’t spell everything out for you.
The writing is quite good on this first issue, but with this big of a concept I think it needed a more pages. I hate to say it, but I think the smaller page number that Monkey Brain has become known for, actually hinders the development of this particular story. It could have been a decision from the creators of course, but in general I don’t have a good feel for Theremin or the world he lives in. Instead I have half a notion about both which was kind of frustrating. The writing and the craft are still very good and the action and sci-fi elements were superb. I personally love retro tech stories and with the mixture of espionage I was very entertained by the overall tale.
With this being a sci-fi story with future tech, the look and design are of high importance to the story. Dalton Rose is on art details and he does a wonderful job with the visuals. The world is very alive because of his art and it’s interesting to see the range he has with his style. This is very different looking from Phabula which was another series from Rose and Monkey Brain that I enjoyed. The designs for the characters, all the way up to the city scape are very striking and visually pleasing.
This was an extremely entertaining story and I will definitely be sticking around to see the larger story unfold. There is an extensive letter of sorts from the creator Curt Pires at the end of the issue and if you couldn’t tell already, he put an extensive amount of time in to researching Theremin’s life in order to create this comic. Over and over Monkey Brain delivers some great self-published material and Theremin can definitely be added to that list. This is a must read for sci-fi and espionage fans, that’s for damn sure.
Writer: Curt Pires
Artist: Dalton Rose
Publisher: Monkey Brain Comics
Release Date: 4/10/13