Enenra issues 1 & 2.
Written and Created by Aaron Wroblewski.
Art by Ezequiel Rubio Lancho (credited on cover only as ‘Rubio’).
Letters and Editing by Aaron Wroblewski.
Published by Markosia Press.
(Issues 3 & 4 coming to Kickstarter soon.)
The Story – ‘Flight BA432 arrives into Heathrow airspace. Despite all attempts at communication failing, the airliner is allowed to land, much to the horror of everyone involved. As liaison officer between the British government and the ECDC, Doctor Richard Marron is contacted. His team, together with Jessica Holmes from the Epidemic Intelligence and Response, cautiously gain entry to the aircraft. What they find is horrifying. Just what happened on-board Flight BA432?’
The Covers – I think that of the two covers we have seen so far that issue 1 is the stronger of the two. It has a nice horror aimed message with the diseased eye and lends itself to some foreshadowing of what is to come with the hazmat suited reflection. Although as with issue two’s cover the colouring is a little dull and to stand a chance of being noticed I would assert that something with a splash of colour would assist.
Issue 2 has a pretty derivative cover from anyone who has been reading comics with a post apocalypse vibe anytime in the last twenty years. The same bearded survivor that we are used to seeing along with a dog unnaturally in shadow. It’s that usual dog type that we see far too often as well. Issue 1’s cover would have spiked my attention but not issue 2. We really have seen all this far too many times.
As I type I’m having a bit of trouble trying to locate the names of artists. There are no credits in the interior of the book. The cover just has the name ‘Rubio’ in the space where the artist would normally sit and the Drive-Thru purchasing page doesn’t credit an artist. The Markosia site page for issue one of this series says that Ezequiel Lancho is the artist. The ‘ready to launch’ Kickstarter page doesn’t mention the artist in the text or the video. I reached out to the writer for the artist details and he tells me that Ezequiel Rubio Lancho is the artist but he so far hasn’t replied to my query about the cover artist.
(Stop the Press – Just had a message from the writer and it was Ezequiel Rubio Lancho who created the covers. He also tells me that it was an accident that he hadn’t mentioned the credits for the artist on the Kickstarter page. Looks like he is fixing that now I guess.)
The Review – This book happens in two specific time environments. One that is described as ‘Present Day’ tells the story of the downing of a plane where the occupants have been infected with a virus. The other time period is described as ‘The not too distant future’ and happens in a setting that we presuppose is after the aforementioned virus has ravaged the earth and a few people are left to scavenge an existence. This has got me thinking. Isn’t the ‘future’ setting the ‘present’ or hasn’t it happened yet? I think that the use of something along the lines of ‘January 2021’ and ‘Now’ would have worked better. This is after all an imagined reality in a fictional setting and time so the present should be a flashback? Otherwise it feels like it’s only a ‘possible future’. Maybe that’s the point?
The story is set up with that now rather too real narrative of a virus wiping out the occupants of the Earth. But it doesn’t feel crass or shameless. It takes it’s time in establishing the tension and a big chunk of issue 1 deals with the downing of Flight BA432. If anything it feels like the landing of the plane takes too long. This makes it feel like the first chapter of something that would be more at home in a longer form collection.
The two comics make use of some good layouts that allow for some widescreen disaster movie style moments. There is some really obvious moments that I suspect have been lightboxed – especially when the art deals with aircraft, vehicles and buildings. I suppose we see that a lot these days.
Throughout both issues there is a creeping sense of colour. Often minimal and almost unnoticeable the artist creeps in muted greens and browns – especially in the devastated earth sections. There’s a slightly underwhelming quality to the use of faded envelope brown as a balloon colouring when newscasters are speaking that seems worth swapping round with the brighter orange used in the scene setting ‘Elgin, Scotland’ style panels. The lettering also could do with a pass from someone who appreciates that we don’t want too much bright blank white space in wordballoons too. This also stilts some of the pacing in the dialogue.
The pacing moves away from the comics traditions of showing action regularly in a comic and can be seen to have been crafted against episodic televisual stylings in building tension. That plane really did take ages to land/crash. It leaves the questions of who was flying it etc? (I’ve checked and BA432 actually exists and travels from London to Amsterdam on Sundays).
This series sets out to establish a wide cast. In some sequences we get some great character moments. For example there is a scene on a plane where a young girl speaks to the pregnant woman in the seat next to her. It’s well written and realistic and creates character that you will remember later. But when setting up a large cast you need to establish who is who and what they do/are etc. There are far too many under-rendered panels where the faces are obscured or are lacking any specific detail/characteristics.
A couple of examples follow.
I realise that this isn’t always easy when the characters are wearing hazmat suits but it really does need some more consideration. I read both issues in one sitting and am completely lost as to who was who.
The above three-quarters of a page is a case in point. You can’t see due to the glare on the visors. The voices of the characters also lack an individuality that allows the reader to work out movement and direction. This continues for page after page.
Good old reliable Idris Elba turned up. He’s just finished his most recent Sky TV advert and has taken a break to help out these scientists and all those artists using him as reference. ‘Not again’ you could hear me saying. There’s a recognition element to the use of well-known actors and the like in this way that immediately takes you out of the story. This happened to me right here. I sent a screenshot to a buddy who straightaway asked me why Idris Elba was in this comic.
In Conclusion – I’m sorry but I can’t recommend this series. I honestly had trouble working out what was going on and especially who was on the page in front of me. To it’s credit the cover to issue 1 is solid and there is a nice creeping terror to some of the moments. There are a few nice layouts and some of the aircraft aerial pages look good albeit it a little too referenced. The story is a mess because character recognition is almost zero. New characters (I think they are new?) keep appearing and I had no clue who there were.
Many thanks for reading.