“Once every seven years, Earth overlaps with Ektae, a world where alchemy is not pseudo-science but the driving force of industry. For seven days, Ektae breaches our world, bringing dirty magic and ideas. Jordan Molossus was born of Earth and Ektae and abandoned by both, but when he receives two cast iron urns containing his estranged fathers’ ashes, he’ll leave everything behind to put his parents to rest before Ektae disappears for another seven years.”
Namesake #1 (of 4)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Jakub Rebelka
Namesake, like a lot of fantasy comics, begins in medias res. This technique can be tricky. When done well, action, dialog, and narration fill you in on the story and world. When done bad, the explanations rely heavily on exposition. Namesake lands somewhere to the right of the middle, slightly more on the good side.
Steve Orlando is a talented writer (his recent Midnighter title for DC was excellent), so it’s a bit of a surprise that the story seems a bit muddled and underexplained at times. When you’re trying to do some world building in comics, getting to the point is key. There is some clutter here. And Namesake is solicited as a four issue mini-series, so pacing is crucial.
The book starts with a lot of action (something Orlando excels at), as main character Jordan Molossus is shown dealing with hectic moments on his job as a kind of magical first responder. Then at the halfway mark, it slows down a bit as we get a pretty long scene of a quite moment between Jordan and his roommate/lover. Although heavy on showing you things, this part is also bogged down by a bit of expository narration. Some of it works though, as Jordan and Sid’s (the roommate) sexuality is made explicit without being addressed too directly. And we learn about Jordan’s parents abandoning him as well. But it ends on a solid cliffhanger as Jordan sets out on a quest to find his still living father, and we get our first glimpse of the world of Ektae as well.
The art by Jakub Rebelka is without a doubt the book’s high point, and it is quite excellent. There is some great use of panel breaking early on to invoke energy and mood, as various images seem to fall over the page, much like party favors. The color pallet is fantastic as well, with a pastel scheme that really creates a sense of distinct lighting and atmosphere. The design work is incredible, with great character looks and details to marvel at. It’s also not overly flashy and has enough subtleties to warrant a slow and even study of the drawings. It’s simply a gorgeous looking book, and comics are a visual medium.
Namesake is a solid first issue overall, and a nice addition to BOOM! Studios original, non-licensed work. As much as I have enjoyed those properties, it’s great to see the publisher step out with more new and original work to put on the shelves. And at just four issues, it’s an investment well worth your time. I’ll stick around and see where this takes me and I think you should do.