This week, IDW Publishing released the first issue of a brand-new series written and drawn by John Byrne. Titled
The Cold War, the series (well, at the very least the first story arc) follows the adventures of a British secret agent named Michael Swann. Swann is a compelling lead, a strong example of the Ian Fleming archetypal lead. This is a promising first issue.
Byrne opens the book by practically giving a master class in the art of sequential storytelling. Literally the first HALF of the book is told sans dialogue. And yet, Byrne is so deft as a storyteller, you never find yourself NEEDING dialogue. Heck, with the way Byrne handles the sequences, dialogue would almost seem detrimental to the work!
Everything is so clear and precise. Very well handled and it justified the bold decision to not only open the first issue with an extended dialogue-less adventure but make it last half the issue.
Once we pretty much know everything we need to know about Swann, we get into dialogue, as we see just what kind of agent Swann is (not the kind who will take kindly to "superiors" who he feels put his life in danger). The comic has a nice American Flagg-esque feel to it, as well, although the sex scenes are handled in a much less overt fashion. They're quite adorable, really.
In any event, the main plot of the series is that Swann is assigned to investigate a group of British rocket scientists. Word is out that the lead scientist is planning to defect to the Soviet Union. When we meet this scientist, we discover that he does not keep his notes written down (so people can't steal them, he says), so his defection would be devastating.
After laying some groundwork with the situation and introducing us to the various characters at the facility (including the scientist's daughter, who works with him at the facility and who took an instant disliking to Swann, who is undercover as a new security liaison), Byrne ends the issue on a strong cliffhanger (and not before dropping in some dialogue that almost certainly has to be establishing a car race next issue, which should be awesome).
This was a well-told and well-drawn first issue of what look to be an enjoyable spy story.