Who is Jake Ellis? #1

Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Tonci Zonjic
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There’s something about the cover of Who is Jake Ellis? that immediately caught my eye. I was familiar with Tonci Zonjic’s art thanks to his work on Marvel Divas and Heralds, both of which looked great, but this? This looked like the sort of design you’d see as a movie poster, or perhaps the cover of a suspense novel. It also all but screamed, “Read me!” and I must say that Zonjic did his job perfectly, because even before I’d opened the comic I felt hooked. By the time I was done? Utterly hooked.

The book opens by introducing us to Jon Moore, in a deal with some rather shady men that is clearly going sour. As he makes his escape—igniting a bottle of alcohol, ducking a bullet, and leaping off of a cruise ship—Jon appears to live a charmed life. And then, everything stops and rewinds, and we start to learn about Jake Ellis, the shadowy figure that only Jon can see or hear, and who is shouting out information to Jon to keep him alive.

It’s a clever opening to the mini-series, quickly establishing the relationship between Jon and Jake, and showing us what Jake can and can’t do. Jake never touches or directly interacts with anything save words with Jon, but lest you think that Jake is some form of Jon’s subconscious, he’s also able to give advice that Jon wouldn’t know about (like to duck a split second before a bullet is fired at Jon’s head). Who is Jake Ellis? is a great name for this comic because it’s a question that will be on everyone’s mind in a matter of pages.

From there, writer Nathan Edmondson takes us on a brief tour of Jon’s life, plotting his next move after his escape from Barcelona, picking up a waitress in Strasbourg, and then watching everything come crashing down as a new group makes his move on Jon. It’s a strong suspense thriller, with the right mixture of action and mystery to keep the reader (and both Jon and Jake) guessing. We also start getting the first hints about there being much more to Jake’s nature than we know about, courtesy a strange snatch of dialogue overheard in the train station. At the end of the first issue, enough hooks are in place that the reader should be ready to come back for the next issue.

Of course, even if Edmondson’s script hadn’t been strong, I suspect people would want to stick around for Zonjic’s art, which is the best I’ve seen from him to date. For a book that has a lot of action, Zonjic holds up his end of the bargain, from Jon’s tumble out of the balcony, to throwing a bottle through a store window. Your eye easily follows the action no matter what, and it keeps up the fast pace that Edmondson set up in his script. His character designs are top notch too; Jon’s good looking but not model-gorgeous, and Jake’s shadowed appearance makes him visually stand out (or should that be blend in?) on the page as something out of the ordinary. The art brings each location to life, too, making me feel like I’m actually watching something unfold in France late at night, or that I’m in a European train station.

Even the smaller details are carefully executed, like the fact that every page has a distinct color scheme (green in the outdoor cafe, maroon in the bedroom, orange on the train, a blue-gray in the evening chase scene through Strasbourg, yellow in the cathedral) that makes it visually stand out in the crowd. This is a smart looking book, and while I suspect that for money purposes it will never happen, I’d cheerfully buy an oversized European hardcover album edition of Who is Jake Ellis? just to see the art at an even larger (and high-quality) format.

I wasn’t familiar with Edmondson’s writing up until now, but I’m not going to forget his name after this comic. Who is Jake Ellis? is the perfect way to start a mini-series. Strong script, amazing art, and I’m already dying for the second issue. What more can you ask for? I don’t know the answer to Who is Jake Ellis? just yet, but I want to know. You will too. Highly recommended.

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