The Precinct #1 goes on sale this week. The new steampunk cop series from Frank Barbiere and Crizam Christhian Zamora follows a cop named Mortimer HIll and a acolyte named Josephine Winters as they try to figure out where these giant steam-powered monsters are coming from. This story is set in the world of Legendarry created by Bill Willingham for Dynamite Entertainment.
The story may be set in a steampunk world, one that is established well and quickly, but the narration also gives it a noir / detective feel. We get that Hill is a flawed individual trying to do right by the city he loves… very noir. There is also a nice nod to Jules Verne, considered by some to be the father of steampunk, so you know Barbiere did his homework.
Where the setup for the series goes well, the relationship between Hill and Winters becomes adversarial very quickly. They don't like each other before they have time to know anything about each other. Perhaps there is something else there that hasn't been revealed yet, but it comes across as rushed.
There is an interesting parallel with modern society going on in the story. Winters is part of an Alchemy Academy that is against the world's dependence on steam-powered devices. They look at controlling the elements as a safer way of fueling the world… though water is one of those elements. They are also against prosthetics like the mechanical arm Detective Hill has. Seems to be an allegory for the dependency on fossil fuel and the resistance to alternative forms of energy.
One of the strengths of this issue is the art of Crizam. It reminds me some of Eric J, the artist from Rex Mundi. Crizam's detail work is great and faces are unique and expressive. The art really keeps you engaged as the writing sets up the world.
It's a hardboiled detective story filled with mysteries and a pretty and untouchable partner. Though there are a bump or two in the road, it's an interesting setup and enough to make you want to come back for a second issue.
For more on the Precinct #1, click here. Cover art by Joe Benitez.