“She’s our secret weapon.”
Take one look at Trust Fall #1 and it’s clear that this is a work of art from a creative team operating at peak performance. Christopher Sebela, Chris Visions, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou all push their creative talents to new heights while producing this fast-paced frenzy of crime, deception, and drama.
Open to page one and you are greeted with striking art from Visions and bold lettering from Otsmane-Elhaou that appears straight out of a fever dream. It’s enough to create an initial sense of disorientation and confusion as your brain takes a second to adjust. There is an impressive amount of depth and dimension in that you almost feel like you could step inside the scene. The first page then initiates a fast-paced, kinetic heist sequence that oozes confidence. The entire scene feels like you’re watching Baby Driver on ecstasy right down to Ash’s headphones and cool, calm, and collected attitude. The art and storytelling are phenomenal and the car chase sequence is as cinematic as can be.
There are a number of small details and quirks that elevate this story to the level of creative innovation, and many of them have to do with the lettering form Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. It feels as though each page comes with a new editing technique whether it be the scribbled-out inaudible dialogue, the phantom, translucent lettering behind captions that echoes what was previously said, or the insane, cut-off SFX that seamlessly blend with the art while adding to the distortion of space and time. We’ve already seen the incredible lettering Otsmane-Elhaou is capable of with his phenomenal work on Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, and once again in Trust Fall #1 he brings an incredible amount of innovation and style to the book.
One thing you may notice right away is this book’s frequent use of captions. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and perspectives, and they’re used for many different purposes. Most effective are Sebela’s definitions, which robotically define a word or phrase within the framework of the story. It is extremely effective at stressing the amount of control and manipulation Ash’s family has over her. Ash’s entire life and outlook are molded by those around her who claim to have to have her best interests at heart, but are really motivated by selfishness and greed. Other captions, however, are less effective, especially Ash’s first hand accounts. First person narration is used to recount a lot of Ash’s experiences and it’s not as effective. It often crowds Vision’s phenomenal visual storytelling without conveying as much emotion and heart as it could. Ash’s description of her routine is an attempt to get us to feel for her situation and isolation, but it doesn’t always hit home. There just isn’t a lot of emotion that comes through, and Ash’s general demeanor sometimes comes off as very blasé. The dueling voices in Ash’s head, however, were a very neat effect and a testament to Trust Fall‘s willingness to experiment with different modes of storytelling.
The emotion that does hit home is almost entirely due to the paneling and Chris Visions’s incredible visual storytelling. Trust Fall #1 lives in its ability to transition between the distorted purple fever dream of every job and the mundane, rigid, and controlled setting of the Parsons household. Visions’s thick line work and pastel-like coloring gives off a rougher, sketched vibe that we don’t see very often but that lends itself to the distortion, manipulation, and shady dealings that take place in this issue. No matter how wild the effects may look, the core of this book takes place in a world of crime, that shady feeling is always there. In some ways, Visions’ art is reminiscent of Gaydos’s work on Jessica Jones if she worked on the other side of the law. These creators feel at home in this element, and key definitions such as the city, state, and the government being classified as the “unholy trinity” are what cement the issue’s style into place.
Nevertheless, Trust Fall #1’s real gift is its ability to speak on the power of indoctrination. Ash’s thoughts, beliefs, and outlook are not her own but rather a narrative projected onto her for the sake of controlling her gift. When you are only fed lies, it is easy for them to become the truth, and that is exactly what is happening here. The inability for Ash to teleport herself may seem trivial, but it’s extremely important. Ash cannot escape the confines of the world that was made for her. Additionally, in order to survive every job, her family has to be there for her, and eventually, something is bound to go wrong. This book has plenty of action and excitement, but in the end, it forces you to reflect on your own life and family and consider how much of your path is truly your own.