By Alasdair Stuart
Nathan Edmondson and Allison Sampson have had a very good 2014 so far. Nathan's Black Widow relaunch is doing very well and Think of A City, Allison's collaborative art/architecture/comic project is turning out amazing work.
Now, they've joined forces to tell a story about the creation of everything and the pressure that places any creator under. Genesis is a wonderful, feverish, odd book that reads like David Cronenberg's version of Inception and it's available for pre-order until March 24th from Image Comics. The code is FEB140504, you should absolutely pre-order it, and here are the four reasons why.
1. Everything You Ever Wanted
Nathan's script follows an idealistic young man called Adam, who wants to change the world. When he can't, he kills himself. It doesn't take. A very odd encounter with a man only Adam can see leads to him realizing he has the power of absolute creation. He feeds the planet, brings about world peace and changes the world for the better in under a week.
It's not enough.
Nathan has an understanding of the consequences of power that borders on the poetic. There's more than a hint of old school Twilight Zone, in the very best way, to the story and that's never more apparent than during Adam's quiet, personal moments. The image you see here, him turning his wife's hair blonde, is one of the moments this is explored in detail. What follows is excruciating, not only because of the dark turn things take but because of how cleverly Nathan has mapped how we think. Each one of us is chained to an imagination with a brick on the accelerator, constantly racing to control a subconscious that is always three steps ahead. The true horror of the book comes from the way it explores that.
2. The World As A Toybox
Allison's work throughout is amazing but the second act on, when Adam starts flexing the muscles of his power, is frankly astonishing. There's a combination of incredible detail and minimalism that puts her somewhere between Wally Pfister and Vince Danks' work on cult classic York paranormal comic, Sapphire. She's got an incredible eye for detail and takes absolute joy in using that to twist the perspective and scale of the book on a whim. Plus there are some moments of amazing visual wit here. One scene has the universe being reassembled from flat pack paper dolls, another is an exploded diagram of an area with Adam highlighted in one corner. It's the sort of visual trick Kieron Gillen and Jamie Mckelvie used at times in Young Avengers and it meshes with Allison's style perfectly. Jason Wordie's color scheme also impresses throughout, using colour and the lack of it to explore Adam's powers and how close they come to making something tangible, if not necessarily real.
3. This Quiet Earth
Allison's work isn't just impressive when it explores the reality warping elements of the story. Some of the best moments here, in both script and art, are scenes where Adam is alone. The images of him wandering the elaborate, perfect, fake world he's created are haunting and work on any number of levels. There's the lonely God here certainly but also something that a lot of comic creators I suspect will relate to; the inability to walk away from a project when it's done and the sneaking suspicion that for all your hard work, it means nothing. This is a story as much about impostor syndrome as it is about life and death and it's handled with grace, intelligence and layered metaphor.
4. The Creativity Nightmare
The central crux of the book is a conversation Adam has that, cleverly, hasn't been spoiled by the preview pages Image have sent out. However, wrapped around that conversation is some stunning visual storytelling. There's a lot of exploration of the idea that creativity is a wild, untameable resource and almost as much about how dangerous it can be. Nathan's script encodes some pretty serious discussion of the creative mindset into action beats and Allison's art delivers the impossible with documentary accuracy and tremendous impact, helped in turn by Jason Wordie's cleverly chosen, deliberately dialled back color work. The end result is a book that's immensely clever, visually beautiful and leaves a real impression once you've finished it.
Genesis is one of the best, and most unusual, books I've read so far this year. Clever, challenging and visually stunning, it's 56 pages long, is due for release on April 16th and will cost $6.99. The order code is FEB140504 and it's absolutely worth pre-ordering. Your cut off is Monday so if you want it, act before close of business then.
Alasdair Stuart is a freelance writer and journalist. He podcasts at www.pseudopod.org and www.escapepod.org, writes for SciFi Now, Comics Review, Bleeding Cool and others and tonight codenamed a project Operation KROGAN BATMAN. His favourite character on Archer is Pam, followed a very close second by Krieger. You're not his supervisor.