Criminal Underworlds, family gatherings and dynamic magical violence form the backbone of AfterShock comics‘ new series Trust Fall.
Ash is a young woman trapped inside her family home. She has a ‘gift’, some call it a blessing, some call it a curse, but her gift means she is over protected by her family. They keep her house bound except for special missions and as a result her view on the world is slightly off-kilter.
Christopher Sebela introduces the reader to this world from the point of view of Ash. We see the world as she sees the world; see it as she has come to understand it. The city she lives in, known to her as The Wild, is like any other major city in the world but Sebela is able to distort the image because of Ash’s unique world view. In a lot of respects, she has lived a sheltered life and Sebela brings this out through the narration.
There is a running theme based on ‘definitions’ throughout the comic, with Sebela portraying the world from the inside of this emerging criminal family. Ash’s view of the people around her has been manipulated by her family and her upbringing. Sebela is setting up his central character for a fall, referenced in the title and again in the early pages of the comic. The reader gets to know the world Ash lives in, as she sees it, so that we can then learn about the ‘real’ world in time with Ash.
Trust Fall is set up as a coming of age story, a tale of self-discovery in a criminal world tinged with magic. Family features as the central point for Sebela’s discussion, as he makes it clear that families can be loving, protecting, and caring but also, cruel, manipulative and self-centred. In Trust Fall Sebela is asking what it means to be a part of a family, for good or bad.
Chris Visions’ art work is overflowing to the point that the pages can barely contain it. He creates a sense of dynamism that affects not only the images within the panels but the panels themselves.
The layouts are anything but consistent. He mixes up the use of gridded pages with stacked images to push the narrative forward and create a vibrant, ever moving, atmosphere. The action sequences are outstanding and capture the chaotic nature of the violence they portray. The boarders break down and gutters disappear as one action leads into the next, extending a brief moment in time so that it seems to last much longer.
The overlaid conversation gives the moment more of a temporal rigidity as the act of reading enforces a sense of timing onto the reader however, the energy created by the visuals takes over and pushes the reader forward at a much faster pace.
Even when you get to sedate scenes, such as a family meal, Visions’ art work is bursting with uncontrollable energy. The emotional conflicts between the characters is represented not only through the figures interactions but the layouts and colors. There is a physical sense of overpowering and oppression around the table. Trust Fall’s emotional impact is relayed through the art work, while Sebela’s narration and speech unleashes the plot.
There is a lot of exposition and narrative throughout Trust Fall but it’s barely noticeable as Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou threads it into the art work as if they are one and the same. He stacks and overlays the speech balloons to match Visions art style, creating a multi layered image. Often the speech is the main focus for the reader, leading them through the page but at other times, the lettering slips into the back ground almost, to allow the art to tell the story.
Trust Fall is a densely packed first issue in every sense. There is a solid plot inhabited by a number of very strong characters. Sebela has crafted his world building into the story structure so that it works on several levels to give the reader a deeper understanding of the characters and settings.
This layering is then visually represented to perfection by both Visions and Otsmane-Elhaou. The aesthetic of Trust Fall stands out from the crowd and makes a significant mark in the sea of comic books that are available. The energy is so vibrant that a quick flick through would entice any reader.
As first issues go, you couldn’t ask for more; Trust Fall has emotion, intrigue, action, and stunning visuals.