American Ronin #1 is a new series from one of the hottest new comic publishers on the scene. AWA has published some of the most interesting stories in the last year, and it appears we need to add another to the pile. Written by Peter Milligan and drawn by ACO, the creative team is one of the most seasoned the publisher has seen yet. It’s also a clever first issue that introduces a unique take on espionage and super spies.
This first issue introduces a story about a highly trained super-spy in a slick package set in an international locale of Hong Kong. It’s a book that runs heavy on captions, but these hook you into the protagonist’s solo lifestyle as he attempts to infiltrate a powerful man’s inner circle. What’s fascinating is these captions end up becoming your own thoughts due to it never letting up on these thoughts. They also tie well into the abilities of the main character. In a way, this issue puts the reader into the head of the character and in the driver’s seat of the American Ronin.
This book is immediately captivating due to the art by ACO. One of the most innovative artists when it comes to layout design, ACO continues to show it here. The opening page, which you can see below, features small moments a character is enduring while standing on the precipice. Behind it all is the incredible drop he’s looking down on, which would make him go splat without question. As your eye dances from the background to each panel, you can feel yourself experiencing what they experience.
This is followed by two great double-page layouts that draw your eye with panels that move in and out like playing cards. Other panels literally create onomatopoeia with their gutters or in other cases lose them completely to help focus attention on letters.
Further, color artist Dean White is doing some exceptional work. The shades of purple in the image above can show you the level of detail White is working with. The color palette is very smooth and appealing. It gives the book a slick narrative experience.
As the story unfolds, Milligan reveals there’s a lot more to this world of super spies than we have seen so far. That’s tantalizing, although on some level it’s also a bit slow in its reveals. The cliffhanger drops an interesting twist on the idea of powers in this world, but it’s not quite enough to understand how things work. As it stands, this issue is a standalone mission for the protagonist that gives us a taste of the holistic nature of this character’s approach.
For some, I wager there won’t be quite enough here to know what is going on, but if you like psychological exploration you’ll dig this. This is a comic where you’ll be questioning what is going on, how characters are thinking, and where their humanity lies.
American Ronin #1 is a good psychological thriller that is as absorbing as it is pretty. It’s a little slow, but if you want a narrative that’s very different than what you can get from most publishers, you’ll want to give this a shot.