Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This quasi-week: Warren Ellis. Today’s page is from Fell #5, which was published by Image and is cover dated May 2006. Enjoy!
Hey, look, it’s Fell! Good ol’ Fell. We all love Fell, right? We all want to see it return, right? Wouldn’t that be something?
Ellis’s weird police procedural with Ben Templesmith is a superb series, and this first page really shows Ellis in command of his prose. It’s not too gross or weird, but it certainly hints at it. Plus, we get the cynical Ellis humor we all know and love. In the first panel, Ellis gives us a Post-It Note in which he sums up Richard Fell’s feelings for his workplace. So charming! It helps establish the place of the issue, and later on the page, we learn we’re in a place called “Snowtown.” That’s helpful! Violet and Detective Fell (we don’t learn his first name until page 2) have some nice banter. The line “I don’t hear any sobbing” is funny but also establishes that Lt. Beard is either not all there or that the place he works is really horrible – we can infer it’s probably a combination of both. In Panel 3, Violet tells us the set-up for the issue – this is the famous (I guess) “box” issue, in which Fell interviews a suspect for the bulk of the issue, and Ellis has to make it interesting. So Violet tells us where Fell is headed, and then she implies that the Moon Street precinct station is woefully understaffed because once Fell leaves, no detectives will be in the office. Ellis leaves us with another typical nasty and funny Ellis line about Violet’s sexual proclivities, and then we leave her.
This page is quite packed with information, which is nice. The issues of Fell are single-issue stories (for the most part), so Ellis has to get a bunch of stuff in, and he does here. Templesmith doesn’t have a lot to do, but he does a nice job adding the shadows to Violet’s face when she talks about her husband leaving her. It’s a tiny bit of human tragedy in the bigger picture. Fell’s wry look at Violet’s joke in Panel 5 is well done, too. One usually doesn’t think of “subtle expressions” when one thinks of Templesmith, but he shows that he can do them.
Ah, Fell. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get it back? That would be fun.
Next: What could it be? Ellis has written a lot of comics since 2004. I have a smorgasbord to choose from for our last day of Ellis Mini-Week! Don’t forget the vastness that is the archives!