Writer: Shane Davis
Artist: Shane Davis
Inks: Michelle Delecki
Colors: Morry Hollowell
The initial reaction that can come from AXCEND, is that it is going to be another superhero comic, with a Peter Parker-esque character trope as the protagonist. However, once you delve deeper into the issue, you come to find the initial inclination to be wrong. While the main character Eric Morn, could be compared to the typical Parker like character, the further into the book, one can quickly see Eric has a bit more depth, as well as some huge differences in his character. While he is also motivated by the death of a family member, his twin brother and portrayed as a loner, the plot points behind this differ greatly from the iconic backstory of Spider-Man. It draws from the same well, but delivers different results and a character closer to the current social climate.
AXCEND 1 opens up with Eric confronting a classmate, who’s bullying another student. While Eric doesn’t come off as the typical weak nerd this scenario usually entails, through the dialogue it’s revealed, not only is the bully a former friend of his deceased twin but, Eric is also the least liked of the two. Moving forward, Eric returns home to be met by his mother, who’s been trying to contact him all day about visiting his brother’s grave with her, on his one year anniversary. Eric while understanding her intentions are good, shrugs her off, simply wanting to be left alone to play video games. This is where the main theme of AXCEND is presented and expanded later in the book, through a virtual reality game Eric is playing and eventually, through unknown consequences as of now, crosses over into the real world.
What is great about AXCEND is Eric’s character, who seems dynamic, with a variety of personal issues he’s going through. While he is your typical angsty teen loner, the reasoning behind this is heavy and steeped in a story, which one can assume will be explored further, in future issues. The breakdown Eric has with his councilor alone, creates a real focus on him having to deal with the loss of his brother, who he was deeply connected to in a variety of ways. The dialogue throughout is very well written and grounded. It actually feels like real conversations, rather than forced ones that writers end up overwriting. This feels like a story that will be character driven, rather than plot. With the character’s themselves being the force behind what makes this book relatable, which is always a big plus.
As far as the artwork, it’s solid as well from the team of Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki and Morry Hollowell. Davis’s pencil work is clean, detailed and life like, really bringing the story to life. You can also see the heavy influence of mainstream superhero artwork, during the virtual reality sequences. It becomes an extremely noticeable DC style, which makes sense when you look at Davis’s background. AXCEND’s artwork is very sharp and perfect for the book, completely insync with Davis’s writing.
The strengths are clearly in the character’s themselves, which in a comic, will always make a better reading experience long term, than plot.
Whether you’re an indy fan or not, AXCEND is definitely a book recommend to check out from IMAGE. It’s solid around the board in writing and artwork, as well as character and tone. The strengths are clearly in the character’s themselves, which in a comic, will always make a better reading experience long term, than plot. Good characters create connections to the reader, creating lifelong fans who will support and follow the series. AXCEND has that quality and is worth the time to read.