Ben McCool and Nikki Cook deliver an impressively evocative first issue in this Image Comic (with an awesome John Cassaday cover) about a small town that had the memory of each inhabitant completely erased three years ago. Now that the initial media frenzy has died down, an arrogant journalist has come to the town to see if he can break the story where no one else has before. Before long, he will learn that if you dig long enough, you might not like what you unearth.
Memoir has an impressive high concept, the idea of a town where everyone mysteriously has lost their memory, and McCool and Cook do a good job of laying the foundation for further development of the concept by first introducing us to the various characters of the story, including the protagonist, a self-absorbed journalist who looks at the victims of the memory-wipe not as people, but as step stools in his pursuit of success.
One of the first words I used to describe this comic was "evocative," and to give you a good example of this, here's an early page from the comic...
Cook delivers mood very well. She is a very talented storyteller and she paints a striking picture of a small town where the bleakness of everything seems to permeate the air.
In these sample pages, we meet the journalist who sets out to find the secrets behind the memory-wipe. McCool writes a strong introduction to Trent, and if McCool wasn't already forcing Trent to ooze "dirtbag" with all of his dialogue and captions, Cook would definitely get it across with Trent's body language.
If I have one complaint about Cook's artwork is that at times the faces of her characters seem to be a bit off. Like on the second page of the four I just showed you - Trent's look on the first panel of the bottom row...his face looks strange to me. It's not a big deal, and, again, Cook is such a good storyteller that it really doesn't hold the story back at all, but I have to admit it occasionally jolts me out of scenes when I see an ill-fitting face taking up a full panel like that.
McCool spends most of the first issue getting us used to Trent as a character before he undoubtedly takes Trent through the wringer. Meanwhile, we also get a glimpse of what kind of effect having all of your memories taken away from you can have on a person. There's an interesting librarian character who presumes that everything is a big conspiracy theory, and what's particularly interesting about someone like that is, if you don't have any memories of your life before you woke up three years ago, how can you possibly know what is and what is not a conspiracy? How would know? These sort of things I am sure will be explored in greater depth as the series goes on. For now, we're just touching the surface. That's a good phrase to use in relation to Trent, as his interest in this story go strictly to that level - the surface. He's hoping to come across something interesting that he can use to catapult himself to the top of the world of journalism, but he seems only wanting to do the very least amount of real interaction that he possibly can in the process.
It always interests me when writers go with the approach of a jerk as the hero of the story - it is tough way to go in a short-form story, but luckily, McCool and Cook give Trent enough charisma to make him still worth following, even if he seems like a total jerk (you know who did an amazing job with this type of character? Brian Wood and Steve Rolston in Pounded - that's neither her nor there, I just really like Pounded and I like to take any opportunity that I can to praise it).
There are two major reveals in the first issue of Memoir - the first is that one person in town DOES remember, and he is trying to seek out Trent (Cook frames this reveal really well - the spookiness of having a message from a mysterious stranger pop up on your laptop is palatable). But what is this person's motivation? What is their game? If they've had this information from the beginning, why haven't they shared it? Or HAVE they shared it and it has been kept hidden for some reason? Lots of intriguing questions there.
The second revolves around one of the memory victims digging around the town looking for something that is haunting him. When he makes his discovery - well, it definitely gives you a powerful image to pull you into what might be a pretty horrific story. Cook NAILS the splash page containing the big reveal.
So an interesting concept, an intriguing lead character, a strongly presented mood with a few particularly powerful moments that support what appears to be a compelling mystery - when you add Cook's effective artwork into the mix, you have yourself a recipe for success.
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the first issue! See what I did there? Oh, I am so clever.