With the debut of Elanor & the Egret, AfterShock Comics introduces an unusual duo of art thieves and the investigator who is determined to catch them. Does the series get off to a good start?
Elanor & the Egret #1 (AfterShock Comics)
The issue begins with a flashback to some sort of swamp or other wetland, where we see Eleanor running around, only to fall down, get back up, and find herself staring at a large egg in a nest. It is inferred that this egg later hatches into the book’s titular egret. This opening scene doesn’t start the issue off very strongly, as Eleanor’s actions seem too unusual to accept without questioning them. We get no hint as to why Eleanor is running through the swamp (in a long gown, no less). The most obvious possibility would be that she is fleeing someone or some thing, but we get no signs of any other living entities in the swamp. There’s also the fact that she briefly resumes walking normally between bouts of running, which would seem to indicate that she is not in mortal peril. These circumstances are too vague to understand without further details down the line, but the issue never revisits this scene. Instead, the narration flashes forward an undetermined amount in time to a scene in an art gallery.
Things pick up considerably in both clarity and quality upon reaching the art gallery. Here, we see Eleanor in a long, expensive-looking gown, gazing at a painting on display. Eleanor is also wearing a wide-brimmed hat, with what initially looks to be decorative feathers, but is revealed to be the egret. The rest of the issue depicts Eleanor and her egret stealing the painting, and an investigator beginning his attempt to find the thieves in question.
The issue has two main strengths: its characters and its colors. Conceptually, a young woman and her mysterious talking bird make an interesting pair of art thieves. The egret’s abilities to alter its size and transform its beak in order to pick locks are also intriguing. With that said, writer John Layman hasn’t given either character a fully-realized and consistent personality yet. The investigator character doesn’t seem particularly well-defined yet either. Hopefully future issues will flesh out the cast. The first issue does a good job of introducing them all well enough to pique one’s interest, but more depth will likely need to be added to make the series great.
Visually, the issue’s main strengths come from colorist Ronda Pattison. Almost all of the color work in the issue is good, and much of it is gorgeous. From swamp water to characters’ attire to museum paintings, Pattison elevates the artwork considerably. Sam Kieth’s line art is less effective. While it has its good moments, most of which involve close-up detail on the egret, the line work isn’t very effective as a whole. The issue’s main aesthetic drawback concerns the characters’ faces and anatomy, which frequently look wonky or cartoonish in an unappealing way.
Ultimately, this issue is a good one. It establishes an interesting pair of main characters, the art theft plot line feels fresh, and much of the coloration is fantastic. The confusing opening scene and wonky art drag the overall experience down a bit, but this is still a promising start to what could become a great series.