Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Emissary #4, which was published by Image and is cover dated August 2006. Enjoy!
The first page of Emissary #4 isn’t all that great, because writer Christopher Long feels the need to dump a lot of information on us all at once, and he doesn’t give artist Juan Ferreyra much to do. Emissary, in case you didn’t read this series, is a Jesus-like figure who appeared in New York one day and caused a sensation, mainly because he’s black. I mean, come on – Jesus was obviously a blond, blue-eyed white dude, right?
Long uses the classic cliché of having a newscaster catch us up on what’s going on, even beginning the book with “If you’re just joining us,” which is kind of funny. Emissary appeared at the Vatican while the Pope, Nicholas IX, was addressing the crowd. We find out that the pope collapsed and was feared dead, but is still alive, and that Emissary “materialized” with an unidentified woman about 200 feet in the air. We also find out that the woman can be identified, because her son does so in Panel 8. We also get the introduction (or re-introduction) of several characters in every other panel – the guy wearing the tie and the dude with the camera in Panel 2, “Senator Haggart” in Panel 4, “General Lang” in Panel 6, and the man and his son in Panel 8. Are these people important in the issue? Well, we don’t know, but Long and Ferreyra make sure to include them all. We don’t know the woman’s name yet, but it’s Tara. Just so you know.
Ferreyra is a very good artist, but this page doesn’t allow him to do anything interesting, and the only reason to turn the page, really, is whether you want to know what happens when Emissary showed up at the Vatican. It’s only 4 issues into the series (which only lasted 6 issues anyway), and Long is the second writer on the book, so perhaps he wanted to get his story started by giving us as much as he could, but it’s to the detriment to the art. The 9-panel grid is pretty boring, and as Ferreyra needs to put all the people watching the broadcast, we don’t even get the report juxtaposed over more exciting images, something we get on the next two pages, which form a double-page splash. The nature of the page layout doesn’t really allow Ferreyra to lead us from panel to panel, so except for Senator Haggart’s pose, looking from left to right, and the fact that the kid is to the right of his father (from our perspective), Ferreyra is relying on us to read the page like we would read prose and doesn’t really try to do much to lead us. The placement of the watchers and the news report does make sense and balances the page nicely, but it’s just not that intriguing. Angel Marin’s colors are dull and unspectacular, which makes Ferreyra’s artwork even less appealing. It’s too bad, because there are some very nice pages in this comic and even some nice coloring choices, but this first page is tedious to get through. Long isn’t a terrible writer, but he plods along and doesn’t allow the visuals of the book to help him at all. Even the backgrounds are boring. I imagine that the final page of this issue – which also involves a television, Emissary, and Tara – is deliberately meant to echo this page (it’s a 9-panel grid), but that one is much more visually interesting than this one, plus Long doesn’t overwhelm us with words.
Emissary, as I mentioned, didn’t last very long, and that’s too bad, because it was an interesting comic. Pages like this, unfortunately, didn’t do it any favors. If you thought the rest of the issue was going to be as long-winded as this one, why would you turn the page?
I’m still accepting nominations for writer/artist duos to feature here in August. Remember: the writer and artist need to be different people and they need to have 25 issues together under their belts!
Next: Uh-oh … it’s a creator involved with a certain DC book that is getting people’s blood roiled up. But this is from years ago! It’s a nice page, I swear! Cool your jets in the archives!