“The Field” #1 by Ed Brisson and Simon Roy begins with a setup that is rare in real-life, but popular in fiction for its instant suspense: the main character wakes up with no memory of who he is. To heighten this vulnerability or make the metaphor of “like a baby” more blunt, he wakes up naked in the titular field with only his underwear and a cell phone.
The setup also eases exposition, since the amnesiatic protagonist is at square one just like the reader. The pacing and atmosphere shifts are disquieting. The main character is seemingly assisted by the ironically named “Christian,” who first flies off the handle like a psychopath in his truck, and then goes fully into “Texas Chainsaw Killer” or “Deliverance” mode at a diner. The opening scene hints at science fiction and espionage, and then abruptly the language and the setting segue into Southern gothic horror once Christian arrives. The intersection of genres is an odd but original note. If Brisson further develops this line along with the mystery behind the amnesia, the combination of mad science and backcountry evil is promising. The characterization leans on stereotypes. That said, Christian’s near-monologue, heavy with colloquialisms, steals the stage, shaping the feel of “The Field” #1 far more significantly than the actions or dialogue of the protagonist.
Character development is sparse, which is partially due to the constraints of a miniseries or a short story. The main character is defined by his amnesia and the resulting vulnerability. He is still a blank slate in personality by the end of the issue, save for being the nicest person in the story by default. There is a lot of action, but by the end of “The Field” #1, all the main character has learned is that Christian is dangerous and insane, and that the someone on the other end of his mysterious cell phone may actually be trying to help him. The reader knows that there’s another group of characters searching for the amnesiac and that there may a lot more to Christian’s raving. Subsequent issues are going to have to reveal information at a much faster clip.
Roy’s art is good at conveying changes of mood, especially Christian’s unstable affect and the protagonist’s panic. Both Roy’s line and his backgrounds lack depth. However, his linework does have a lot of texture. The effect of all the wrinkles and bumps reinforces the anxious, jittery atmosphere. Gough’s coloring does nothing to add depth, and he colors the issue unimaginatively, resulting in all the nighttime scenes being rendered in almost a monotone of purplish gray. It gets across the fact of nighttime, but the it also mutes the artwork and suspense. The diner scene is colored in warm dull neutrals that also diminish the art and the action.
“The Field” #1 relies too much on shock and the withholding of information to create suspense. Despite the lack of substance, Brisson and Roy provide enough flavor to give the reader an idea of whether the tone of the book is for them. Future issues may round out the plot, but the first issue is too lightweight to sink in any more hooks.