First Knife is one of the best genre-bending pieces of art I have read in a long time. Originally dubbed Protector, this series has fulfilled its goal of transporting its readers into a whole other world. Reminiscent of Otomo’s Akira blended with a Tradd Moore style, the book really breathes in some wonderful caricatures that guide us within this new world. The blend of East and West really gel for how the post-apocalyptic narrative ebbs and flows with this joyous revelry. Taking a stance to avoid technology within the societal leftovers of this world, First Knife executes a wondrous embrace of indigenous folklore by entrenching these customs as something that is a norm and not something to be exoticized.
With the work of Artyom Trakhanov, his manga-infused lines fluidly execute this world into a wonderful colossus. The huge expanses that manage to get depicted alongside the great cultural additions by Trakhanov really give this series an ability to bleed through the page and lace into a reader’s imagination. Constantly holding the fervor through each line, Trakhanov manages to always depict some absurd images with a humanity that is utterly gut-wrenching. It’s rare for an artist to uphold both spectacle and character growth within a few sets of panels, but Trakhanov makes it feel effortless.
Enhancing Trakhanov’s art is the wondrous colors that Jason Wordie layered atop these spectacular lines. Wordie manages to allow for this wonderful ancient text feel in the colors. It makes the world feel analog in the way the story progresses, even acting reminiscent of old comic book newsprint. This color really brings in a wonderful coping of style to a world ravaged by the Earth’s climate. Complementing the artwork is Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, who manages to properly use his letters as suggestive flairs alongside Trakhanov’s line work within the series. His word balloons really bring another voice upon all of the pages.
This book is simply a joy to read, and a must-have for every comic book reader.