For a first issue, “Jinnrise” #1, by writer Sohaib Awan and artist Tony Vassallo, does a little too much hopping around and not enough to establish characters and predicaments. Sure, there’s a cool fight, some wicked aliens and a big blue genie, but the handful of should-be-relatable human characters without names don’t get enough background to make them interesting.
According to the “Jinnrise” website, Andrew Marcus is the protagonist introduced in the opening scene of the story. Writer Sohaib Awan establishes that Marcus is studying abroad, but fails to detail where abroad is, save for the settings of a library and a marketplace in arid desert lands. Marcus is used to introduce us to the events in “Jinnrise” #1, but the book hops around a bit. We’re given a peek into the command craft for the invading hordes (referred to as “Kibrani” by the apparent leader of the invasion) and we meet a family (of sorts) who are directly impacted by the invasion. The plot is fairly straightforward, but the lack of depth or even basic introduction for the characters is lacking.
Tony Vassallo’s art is sketchy and erratic, but in a way that adds emotion to “Jinnrise” #1. A great deal of his characters shade towards a cartoonish appearance further emphasized by their wild gesticulating and exaggerated facial expressions. Those exaggerations spread out to include a camel in one of the issue’s most critical scenes, which gains a little goofiness with the camel’s expression being given equal weight as those of its riders. Vassallo displays good storytelling skills, but could use a little more refinement in his actual drawing. One such area that would get a boost from a little more attention is the flashback scene. There are a pair of scenes that clearly are intended to be from a previous time, but none of the industry standard visual indicators — shading, rounded panel corners, setting details in caption boxes — are used. A few of those and the story would have a little more cohesion and flow more smoothly.
There’s enthusiasm and fire in “Jinnrise” #1. There’s also potential for a fun, entertaining story, but there is a most important need for a little more polish and refinement. Alien invasion stories are a staple of comic book adventures, but this one, which is essentially set up to be genies versus aliens, needs a boost to become noteworthy. Awan and Vassallo have displayed a measure of skill and talent, they just need to work on execution and delivery.