Beguiling in structure and in art, Ellis and Lotay are redefining the feel and look of what a superhero story can be.
This first issue is actually the story of Diana Dane, and her journey begins with a visit to a trippy dreamscape during her restless sleep. There she meets one man with a lot of answers to questions she doesn’t realize she’s asking, “This is the most real place you’ve ever been.” And she sees a faceless man named Enigma, “I remember all my past lives. I just don’t know who I am now.” In the morning, she arrives at the offices of Darius Dax, the one person the answer-man told her to not to trust.
An out of work investigative reporter, Diana isn’t exactly in a position to turn down a job offer, so she hears Dax out. He is a strategic forecaster who acquires information and sells it to those who will most benefit from its use. And he wants Diana to conduct a very specific investigation into a plane crash that wasn’t really a plane crash. Something fell out of the sky, including a golden arch with the word “Supreme” carved across the top, but that wasn’t all. Video evidence shows Ethan Crane at the site, though only briefly. Her assignment is to investigate the crash and bring in evidence of someone connected with the arch. She’s intrigued and just poor enough to accept the offer with its considerable compensation.
The promise of adventure and more than one mystery to solve are catnip to Diana, and writer Warren Ellis has brilliantly transformed a supporting character into a compelling lead. His characterization of bad guy Darius Dax is akin to The Operative in the film Serenity played with creepy aplomb by Chiwetel Ejiofor. And his use of dreams as vehicles to the truth will prove interesting as Diana’s investigation proceeds, especially after meeting Reuben, her very odd bodyguard.
Abstract and inviting, Tula Lotay’s lush artwork establishes a unique tone for the book. The use of bright colors and pastels in unexpected places keeps the reader off balance as Diana finds herself in unfamiliar settings. Lotay loves gritty cityscapes and automobiles the way Sean Phillips does—through a scratched lens that advises caution.
It’s a bold new direction and a very indie-comic spin on a book that used to have a much more traditional hero-comic vibe. I hope Rob Liefeld likes this haunting new interpretation, I know I do.
Warren Ellis (W), Tula Lotay (A), Image Comics, $2.99, July 23, 2014