Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire reunite after their run on Moon Knight to bring readers Injection, a title that sets out to tell a science-fiction thriller. But is it good?
Injection #1 (Image Comics)
One of the main advertising points for Injection was that it was the team that created the critically acclaimed Moon Knight series in 2014. This built-in factor allowed the series itself to remain a bit of a secret, allowing the book to be judged on its own merits. Fortunately, Injection #1 lives up to expectations.
The issue opens by introducing readers to Professor Maria Kilbride. She’s ragged, and in a hospital that looks just as disheveled as she does. Maria is summoned by a representative of Force Projection International (FPI) to look into a missing asset for the company. There’s a certain weight to this scene, as it is revealed that previous missions of this type are what landed Maria in the hospital in the first place.
The issue then cuts to the past, as a vibrant Maria welcomes Robin Morel to her unit for FPI. This juxtaposition of past and present serves as a nice contrast to show the growth of the characters and Warren Ellis wisely uses this technique throughout the issue. Robin serves as a sort of gateway for the readers into the world Maria inhabits. As he meets Maria’s team, so does the audience.
That being said, there isn’t a lot of hand-holding in this issue, and Ellis trusts the readers to follow through the twists and turns of the issue, including a wonderful cliffhanger that has a dash of black humor. To that end, artist Declan Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire help to visually draw in the reader. Shalvey’s lines are incredibly nuanced, as both characters and environment contribute to the mood of the book. Shalvey’s panel compositions are superb, there’s a lot of information relayed without a word of dialogue. From the way Brigid lounges in her chair, holding a bottle of alcohol to the way Robin stands with his shoulders tight in a cold breeze, Shalvey brings this world to life. Jordie Bellaire’s balance in tones serves the story to the extreme. There are several different atmospheres being set as Injection #1 switches between cold environments full of computers to more earthy exteriors and Bellaire delicately blends the feelings of lived-in familiarity with other-worldly foreignness.
This becomes more apparent as the issue moves towards its climax and Maria enters a bizarre room that seems to be another world altogether. Warren Ellis allows a bit of humor into the script as Maria is taken aback by what she sees, nicely echoing the reader’s own confusion at what is happening. This scene, along with the final page of the issue is a great hook, allowing just enough mystery to develop for the audience to want to jump back in.
Is It Good?
With a weathered atmosphere, complex characters, and beautiful artwork, Injection #1 is well worth your attention. The pace will be jarring to some, make no mistake, as the issue is a slow burn as Warren Ellis focuses on introducing the readers to the characters and the acronym-filled world they inhabit. But Ellis’ often poetic language works in tandem with the artwork by Declan Shalvey. And not enough can be said about Jordie Bellaire’s color work, which here strikes a wondrous balance between the coldness of a techno-thriller and the heavy weight of a world that isn’t what it was supposed to be.