From writer Simon Spurrier and artist Ryan Kelly comes Image Comics’ newest series, Cry Havoc. Is it good?
Cry Havoc #1 (Image Comics)
In the past, there was a woman named Louise “Lou” who was a sort of street musician. One day, she has a strange encounter. In the present, Louise is now a soldier/mercenary being sent in with a specialist group to bring down a dangerous individual in the Middle East. In the future, she is captured and where she stands is being called into question. What is this woman’s story?
The first issue of Cry Havoc makes a very good impression. The comic establishes the main character and the structure of the story, which takes place over three different time periods (the beginning, the middle, and the end). This storytelling allows for people to get a better idea of what to expect from the comic and where it’ll be going, while also showing where the character is currently at emotionally. This format, while possibly removing the tension surrounding Lou and any sense of worry for her safety in most of the comic, leaves open many mysteries about how the main lead got to certain points and who actually lives or dies besides her. The first issue shows plenty of potential in this style and so far doesn’t seem confusing or overcomplicated.
I’ll admit, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Simon Spurrier—his dialogue and stories tend to be challenging, but not in a fun or engaging way. They just come off as overly complicated in how the story is told and how unnatural and awkward the dialogue and narration come across as. Thankfully, Cry Havoc is quite possibly his most accessible work to date and is easy to follow along with; it’s not bogged down by too much detail or stiff narration. His characterization for Lou is excellent and she’s never someone you can’t get a good read on due to her dialogue and way she reacts to things. The rest of the cast is okay so far given the small bits of dialogue we get from them (besides some soldiers, who feel like generic movie stereotypes). There’s no issue with the story structur—everything seems to flow smoothly from one part to another. The dialogue is decent for the most part and only sounds off in a few areas when a person starts monologuing.
*Insert The More You Know Jingle here*
Image seems to be really boasting about the artwork here, how there are three different colorists (Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson) and how each one colors a different part of the story. While perhaps not as original or groundbreaking as the company makes out to be (the idea of multiple colorists working on a book or the coloring changing to represent a different time period or mood is nothing new), the coloring team works very well with Ryan Kelly’s art. Kelly draws some fantastic images and layouts, even switching up how he inks certain parts of the story differently to go along with the colors, while the colorists lend their talents conveying the right tones for each scene, from the grittiness and dirtiness of the war zone and ending to the smoother and warmer colors of London. Everyone does a solid job here, even if the coloring for The End and The Middle don’t feel too different from each other in tone.
Despite everything above, there are still some iffy areas of Cry Havoc. The first is that the comic really is just normal and typical setup you see in first issues. Not much in the way of excitement or intensity happens outside of one moment, which isn’t surprising as it could have been since the solicitation, preview material, the cover, and other reviews spoil it. Some of the dialogue at times sounds awkward like previously mentioned when a person monologues. There are some bits of the art, mostly in the London parts of the story, where the inking gets a bit too out of hand or the body physiques look off.
Is It Good?
Cry Havoc #1 is a pretty strong start to a new series. The story is structured in an interesting way, offering up intriguing mysteries and a strong, well-rounded main character. The artwork is quite nice as well for the most part, with a combination of strong line work, good inking, and tonally fitting colors. All in all, I give Cry Havoc a recommendation, especially if you’ve been looking to try out a Simon Spurrier comic for the first time.