We’ve got something really interesting this time around: a brand new mini-series from Vertigo called The Names. It’s written by Peter Milligan (of Terminal Hero fame) and drawn by Leandro Fernández, who I have never heard of before. Vertigo rarely ever lets me down with their books, so let’s jump in. Is it good?
The Names #1 (Vertigo Comics)
One day, a successful trader on Wall Street by the name of Kevin Walker is visited by an oddly shaped man named The Surgeon. He has two simple requests: Write a suicide note and jump out the window. Nervous, he does what he is told. Who is this person and what is this shady group who wants Kevin dead that he works for? Well, his widow, Katya Walker, is about about to find out what is up.
I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t listen to this trollish looking man.
Well, this is an intriguing first issue to be sure. I find that premise and story presented here are pretty interesting and leave me curious about what will happen. However, how the story is written is problematic. It just feels a tad rushed, like it’s trying to rush out and give an idea on who these characters are and what the plot will be about. It leads to the story not flowing well, as it jumps around from scene to scene with some awkward and messy transitions. It doesn’t make for the easiest or even most engaging read.
That being said, the story content itself is. We’ve seen this before to some degree (an evil, shady group of businessmen pulling the strings in the world for vague reasons and someone deciding to fight back), but execution and what is presented here isn’t bad. It leaves you a bit intrigued by what’ll happen next in this revenge story. Katya herself is an interesting protagonist with a mysterious past who has potential with the hints laid out, along with her stepson Philip, who suffers from mutism. There needs to be some more development with them to fully get invested in their stories. The only reason we are with them right now is because the villains are so stereotypically evil, smug, and corrupt that we want to see them lose badly (hopefully we’ll get some more development with them as well).
You know these people are evil, because they work in a place like this.
The last thing to comment on here is the artwork. It’s certainly something. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way: it just has a very stylized look to it that may not be for everyone. The characters are really drawn well and stand out quite a bit, but there is a lack of subtlety to it. The “good” characters look more normal, while the “bad” characters all have these extremely stretched out, long faces that make them look inhuman (except for one character, but he has an earring in only one ear, so that already screams evil). The layouts are not too bad and the story flows as well as it can (it’s a bit sketchy in the climax scene), but there’s quite a bit of whitespace and blank backgrounds at points. The coloring is decent and does help with a lot of the tone in some scenes. The artwork is hit or miss here. It all depends on if this is your cup of tea or not.
Is It Good?
The Names #1 is a mini-series that shows potential. The premise and setup here are solid, and there’s plenty of potential here for an enjoyable thriller with some more development of the characters and background. However, the narrative and storytelling is rushed in its first outing and the artwork may not be for everyone. I still definitely recommend giving this a look. This could be just what you are looking for.