Echo #1-3

By Terry Moore
24 pages, black and white
Published by Abstract Studio

When I think Terry Moore, it’s hard to not instantly think Strangers in Paradise. Sure, it’s not the only comic he’s worked on—for DC Comics he wrote six issues of Birds of Prey, and he’s about to start writing Runaways for Marvel—but the bulk of his career was writing and drawing over 100 issues of Strangers in Paradise. Now that it’s come to a close, though, his new baby is a comic called Echo. It has been so long since he’s had something from which I could jump on at the ground floor, well, I figured this was a moment I couldn’t pass up.

Julie Martin’s had better days. Her husband is divorcing her and refuses to take her calls. Her sister is not in a very good mental shape these days. And while she was out photographing plants near Moon Lake, an experimental weapon exploded overhead and rained a strange material all over her body that won’t come off. The same material that the military is now trying to erase all knowledge of. Yes, Julie’s definitely had better days.

Now that we’re three issues into Echo, it’s nice to see how everything is slowly coming together in Moore’s story. There are moments in the first two issues where I found myself really wondering just why, in a 24-page comic, Moore was wasting time with these strange sidelines. Now that we’ve gotten a little bit into the story, though, I’m realizing that I should have been patient and that everything is there for a reason. Moore is writing Echo with a clear long-term plan, and he’s not afraid to plant pieces of information that won’t pay off for several chapters. Now that I’ve seen as much come together as it already has, it’s given me a lot more patience for all the pieces of information that are still wildly unresolved and slightly unconnected. What looks to be our two main characters still haven’t met, after all, and Julie is still obliviously in the dark on almost everything that’s happening. But like any good suspense story, one gets the impression more and more that everything is about to hit the fan fairly quickly.

One of the things that Moore was well-known for with Strangers in Paradise was his gift of characterization, and that’s in full-force here in Echo. With each issue, I feel like I’m really learning so much more about both Dillon and Julie; even a scene with Dillon at a bar waiting for his girlfriend (while talking about the explosion from the first issue) is showing us a lot about him, and I’d forgotten how good Moore is at fleshing out his protagonists. My only complaint so far is that the circumstances that caused the explosion in the first issue seem a little too, well, "bad guy" for me to entirely buy. I’m willing to give it a few more issues, though, in the hope that as we learn more about the creators of the weapon we’ll get some more information that makes it a more reasonable action.

Echo‘s art is really beautiful; I’d forgotten just how good an artist Moore is. He’s got such a delicate look to his art; the way that he draws characters’s hair just lays perfectly on top of each other, for instance, in a way that seems simultaneously fragile and incredibly realistic. The little touches that pepper his drawings add such a sense of realism to them, be they the squiggly line pattern all over a nurse’s scrubs, or the delicate flowers and stars on Pam’s top. Add in the very realistic and expressive faces on the characters, and you end up with a beautiful art style. I do wish that Moore wouldn’t occasionally let the backgrounds drop out of his panels, but I suspect most people are so busy looking at way he draws the characters that they don’t even notice.

I was a little surprised when Moore announced his new book Echo would be serialized as individual comics, but just like Jeff Smith’s Rasl, now that I’ve read it I think he made the right decision. This is a book where getting all the answers at once would take away a lot of the fun, and Moore is clearly enjoying teasing the pieces of information out one at a time. With his new Runaways book scheduled for later this summer, I can’t help but think that a lot of people might decide to look and see what other comics Moore has created; I think they’ll be quite pleased if they end up picking up Echo.

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