“Ballistic” #1 written by Adam Egypt Mortimer and drawn by Darick Robertson is not a comic book for every reader. There is absolutely no shortage of bizarre ideas and psychedelic imagery in the issue, and there are more ways to find offense with this comic book than not, but those ways also project the fearlessness with which the creative team have committed to this endeavor. The “futuristic megadensity” (as Mortimer notes in the backmatter pages that add more insight to the choices made in the story) filling this comic is so thoroughly imagined and brilliantly executed that it feels as though this universe has existed for a while and I’m just now becoming aware of it through the offering of a new #1 title.
Mortimer and Robertson have fun with the exposition, going to great lengths to identify and explain characters without performing paint-by-numbers drudgework. Butch, the “hero” of the story is a heating and cooling technician, and we learn all we really need to know about Butch in under one page of this comic book. Likewise, Kim-Duk Junior, the baddie of “Ballistic” #1, gets a panel of explanation that is more like an intro screen in a video game or even a collectible trading card.
With that information smartly presented, Mortimer and Robertson are able to tell the story at hand and build the world around Butch with explicit detail. During the first five pages of “Ballistic” #1, the duo puts the world of Repo City State on full display with the techno-organic buildings, vehicles and accessories. The duo introduces Gun, Butch’s sidearm, who just so happens to be a talking gun with an attitude. Gun (or Bang-Bang as he’s also called by other denizens of this comic) shoots all manner of defense options and seems to have no limit of ammunition. He’s “talkie tech,” an outmoded fad that Butch took a shine to and modified a bit. Butch and Gun literally merge together and each helps the other. When in fight-or-flight situations the dialog between the two is a entertaining as any buddy cop or heist flick can deliver.
Robertston’s art is well-suited to the mind-blowing landscape in “Ballistic” #1. Parts of the comic almost seem like the result of putting a “normal” script in a blender then reading the results, but Robertson draws everything with flair and personality. Gun has just as wide a range of emotions and reactions as Butch or any of the other humans in this comic. Colorist Diego Rodriguez illuminates the world with over-the-top awesomeness while Crank!’s letters add personality and voices in a most agreeable way.
“Ballistic” #1 is exactly the type of comic book no one is expecting or thinking they want until they have it in their hands. Like “Chew” and Grant Morrison’s take on “Animal Man” in the 1980s, “Ballistic” finds new, irreverent and evocative ways to spin familiar subject matter with humor and flair to make it all seem new and innovative. This comic book wasn’t on my radar, but it’s certainly on my reading list now.