There are a handful of comics that kick butt with their very first issue, providing a fully-realized and engrossing finished product for readers to instantly fall in love with. There are even fewer comics still that manage to maintain that level of quality beyond the first issue. Happily for us, we can now add “Who Is Jake Ellis?” to that latter category.
“Who Is Jake Ellis?” is like a “Bourne Identity” film reborn as a comic, with engrossing action, twists and surprises by both protagonist and antagonists, conspiracies, and a relentless pace. Just don’t mistake this for a mindless action adventure, because it’s not. Nathan Edmondson is slowly doling out information to the reader, giving us hints and fragments about the mysterious facility that kidnapped Jon, the one whose experiments caused him to be able to see Jake Ellis. We’re also getting a particularly interesting read on the possibility that Jake is part of Jon’s mind. Jake’s particular actions this issue might be pointing us in a different direction, or even more interestingly, there’s more going on inside Jon’s head than initially meets the eye.
I appreciate some of the smaller details here in the story, like Jon’s guilt over the death of the waitress in Strasbourg back in the first issue, or his plan to flush his pursuers into the open. It makes Jon feel like more than just a generic guy running through Europe; we might not know a lot about him, but what we have seen shows us more complexity than first impressions might have offered up.
As great as Edmondson’s writing is (and it is great), the superstar of the book for me is Tonci Zonjic, doing the best work of his I’ve seen to date. He’s from the same visual school of artists as people like Edvin Biukovic (of “Human Target” and “Grendel Tales” fame), with a clean and attractive style that showcases his characters’ body language and physicality. Something as simple as snatching a handful of euros out of Jon’s hand has energy and motion; every page flows smoothly and easily from panel to panel, with great attention to detail and skill. I love his use of color here, from the monochromatic dance floor with the different lights blazing down, to the greens of the dimly lit room where Jon takes his prisoner. Zonjic even understands when no color is the best possible route, using white billowing clouds of smoke to mask and form a tense train station scene. I’d be over the moon to eventually see an oversized collection of “Who Is Jake Ellis?” to better show off Zonjic’s gorgeous art.
“Who Is Jake Ellis?” was recently announced as shifting from a five-issue limited-series to an ongoing series, and I’m delighted. There’s so much room for Edmondson and Zonjic to keep telling stories of Jon and Jake, and after three issues the series has not only maintained its high standards, I think it’s gotten even better. “Who Is Jake Ellis?” is an amazing new series that you owe it to yourself to check out.