The Necromancer: Pilot Season #1
Written by Joshua Ortega
Pencils & Inks by Jonboy Meyers
Colors by Brian Buccellato
Letters by Troy Peteri
Cover by Francis Manapul
Top Cow Productions
Cover price: $2.99; On-sale: Oct. 17, 2007
A Pilot Worth Watching
See, I’ve been out of the loop. While the rest of the comic book world was going ga-ga over the original Necromancer miniseries a few years back, I was only just starting to be gently guided back into the comics mainstream under the tender care of Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man and Warren Ellis’s Planetary trades.
Truth be told, with the exceptions of the Paul Jenkins/Dale Keown run on The Darkness, and stand alone limited series like Midnight Nation, Wanted, and Common Grounds (all trades), I haven’t read anything published in the Top Cow universe since the late ’90s.
So, with this in mind, you may ask yourself, “Who the hell is this guy to be telling us anything about this comic book. He doesn’t know the world, he doesn’t know the characters!”
Well, I’ll tell you who I am, my friend:
I’m the target audience.
See, Top Cow has given themselves quite an interesting challenge to meet. Rather than relaunching a popular series and relying solely on the carryover of devoted fanboys to bolster sales, they’re aiming a bit higher. They’re making it their goal to not only satisfy the initiated, but to make these characters and their stories accessible to a completely new generation of readers (like myself).
It’s not unlike the challenge Joss Whedon faced when translating his cult hit TV show Firefly into the feature film Serenity (…hey, look! a Joss Whedon reference that has nothing to do with Necromancer’s similarities to Buffy the Vampire Slayer!): To entertain the newbies, while keeping the oldies satisfied.
In this, The Necromancer (Pilot Season) #1 succeeds smashingly.
We are (re)introduced to Abigail van Alstine, the teenage girl who can speak to the dead (among other talents). We open on young Abby in a therapy session, discussing her recent bouts with nightmares that may in fact be resurfacing memories. We are shown brief glimpses of her previous ordeal at the hands of the demon Mali, followed by a flashback-recounting of the incident which may have churned these memories back to the surface.
Abby is an interesting and well-written character, her voice both recognizably realistic and refreshingly unique. When amongst friends, she wise-cracks like a pro, but when speaking to her therapist (who also happens to be her best friend’s mom), she displays an intriguing mix of clearheadedness, compassion, and self-doubt. These characteristics make her an instantly likable and relatable character.
And “character” is the name of the game with this issue. Oh, sure, there’s action and magic and babes and monsters — this IS a Top Cow book — but along with the eye-candy comes a surprisingly intimate tale, complete with the mandatory twist ending that actually leaves you curious for more information.
I have no doubt in my mind that this approach is due to the fact that the series’ original writer, Joshua Ortega, has returned to pen the pilot issue. Rather than feeling the need to offer a flash-bang reinvention of the main character, Ortega has chosen to simply continue the adventures of the one he originally created. This is obvious, even to someone who has never read the previous issues. His writing is relaxed, confident, natural, and untroubled by the pressing concerns of reintroducing a forgotten product. He’s just tryin’ to tell a story.
And it works. Rather than being flung headfirst into a roller coaster ride of plot-twists and cleavage shots (for more of this, see Cyblade Pilot Season #1), we’re slowly introduced into a story that, even as minute details are revealed, raises more questions that you actually want to have answered. And, while the former certainly gets the job done, the latter does it better.
Only aiding in the experience are the talented renderings of penciler/inker Jonboy Meyers (and, really, how can you not appreciate a guy with a name like Jonboy), who comes along and owns the look of a book he apparently was not the original artist for. His style is a fun amalgamation of Joe Madureira and J. Scott Campbell, with an equal talent for drawing cool monsters, attractive females, and communicative facial expressions.
Add to that the gorgeously vivid colors of Brian Buccellato and you’ve got a complete package. A first issue that is accessible to new and old readers alike, and, most importantly, leaves you wanting more.
If this book accomplishes nothing else, it will make you want to hit your local comic shop and dig up the original six-issue miniseries (currently collected in trade form as The Necromancer: Something In The Way). Hopefully, though, that particular accomplishment will come in second to its being chosen to receive an ongoing monthly series come voting season.
While this issue didn’t completely blow my mind, it was very entertaining and very satisfying, and in my opinion, is highly deserving of a continuation of the story. I wanna know what Ortega has cooked up next.
I give it an A.