With Cyberpunk 2077 ramping up for its November release, there are a lot of tales being told across multiple media about dystopian futures populated augments, cyborgs, and cops and crooks with comically large guns. While fitting right into this popular niche, Night Hunters #1 also proves an exception to it, as the story spun by writer Dave Baker and artist Alexis Ziritt tells a distinctive tale that, in many ways, is a construct wholly its own.
That said, welcome to Gran Caracas at the tail end of the 21st Century. It’s a city where “crime only pays when you are a cop,” and the cops are out in full force to ensure that the peace is kept at all costs. When young Julian Paez is violently killed during a raid on the sector he and his father Juan and brother Ezekiel live, his father opts to save his life at the expense of much of his humanity. Years later, Julian becomes a cybernetic Snake Eyes codenamed Sombra for Technaught’s Cyborg Logistics and Tactical Response Division, which is tasked with neutralizing threats against re-construction of various units across Gran Caracas. On the Night Hunters’ latest mission, they are ordered to take down a drug manufacturing plant, where Sombra is about to discover a dark truth about the target of this particular raid, which is sure to put what remains of his humanity to the ultimate test of loyalty.
Now, the first thing readers will want to take note of is Alexis Ziritt’s brilliant use of color blocking in his panels, utilizing bold colors to elicit a sense of danger in some panels, fear in others, and awe in all. This is a hellish world these two creators have envisioned and brought to life, and Ziritt’s artwork takes it to a whole other level. And the storyline and dialog are easy to follow for the most part, a testament to Baker’s skill as a scribe. More so, the characters they’ve created feel alive and real, even in spite of some of their augmentations and cybernetic implants and appendages.
There are a few minor issues some readers may encounter while reading Night Hunters #1. Being that the story is set in a country other than the United States (Venezuela), the architecture of the world can be a slightly confusing. At one point, we are introduced to various “peace prisons,” and it’s difficult to tell if these are actual prisons or simply what apartment buildings are called in this near future world. If the latter, then the metaphor seems too “on the nose,” but if the former, it’s very unclear. But this is the chance one takes when creating a very unique world that isn’t really depicted in mainstream comics––some readers are bound to experience a moment of confusion or two while during the exposition part of the story. In the case of this premiere issue, any potential confusion is brief and doesn’t take away at all from an otherwise well-written story complemented by a slew of evocative, timely panels that, in their own way, mirror moments in the world today, as all worthwhile art should.
Oh, and be sure to read Dave’s letter at the end. It’s pretty inspiring. And important, too.
Dave Baker (W), Alexis Ziritt (A), Robert Negrete (L) • Floating World Comics, $4.99
Review by John T. Trigonis