You should never judge a comic by its title. “Ryder On The Storm” is a devious new comic that draws you in for a moment and then punches you in the kidneys while you aren’t looking. That’s all before proceeding to cut them out of you and leave you in a retro-organic virus infested bathing swamp with a gin headache and the need to know how you and your new alien friends got there.
Ryder is our man on the scene, an investigations hound, a man with a thirst for action. He’s called into a case where a man apparently commits suicide by drilling himself in the head. Eleven times. It’s a perfectly disgusting entry point to this dirty world. Ryder is a Chandler man investigating a Lovecraft mystery in a Philip K Dick reality as seen through a Jeunet lens. He’s generally underspoken in this debut but what he does say, and do, speaks volumes about who he really is. Or at least who he thinks he is. Hine does a great job of not overwriting the character because all preconceptions need to be broken by issue’s end anyway.
The writing and the art do a fantastic job of world, and genre, building from the very first scene. Ryder’s home base looms in the background like a Sanctum Sanctorum, and the neo-noir water taxis add a detailed touch that helps immerse you into the entire reality of this fiction. Every scene pops with a little extra something to make you understand and appreciate all things. This comic is a mash-up and, while those are notoriously difficult to make feel coherent, this entire package comes across as a clear tale. Hine doesn’t play anything for a gag; this is straight and real and everything is for keeps.
There’s a lot to digest in this issue, but the 51 pages of story help to space it all out. Radical has created an excellent format where the cost is more than an average comic, though only just, but the amount of content is so much more. There is so much story here that it feels like three of any average Big Two issues. It also presents with at least three great cliffhanger ending points that it decides to steamroll through to only get to a better moment. This comic doesn’t pad out any page; the story starts and then twists so many times I wouldn’t be surprised if back matter included a map and some Hickmanesque info-pieces. Though they would not be necessary as everything you need to follow the tale is right on the page.
‘New Pulp’ seems to be making an upward trend in comics today and, while this is somewhere between “Criminal” and “Incognito,” it is definitely its own beast as well. This is a good comic for so many reasons and a silly pun title should not deflect you from the fact this might be the best thing Radical has put out so far. It’s also the best tale about a gumshoe investigating a possible daemon lineage that controls the city while also teaming up with a very fatal femme. Considering this will only be three issues, I’d pick “Ryder On The Storm” to become the best mini series that you need to be reading. This comic is smart, fast, haunting, and damn well created.