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The Warning #1 review: Nothing more than the sum of its parts

Image’s new sci-fi military story debuts with a painfully slow burn.

The premise of writer and artist Edward Laroche’s new sci-fi military story, The Warning, wherein humanity is struggling with sudden, mysterious arrival of potential alien invaders, is promising. Unfortunately, this first issue does little to establish any character or direction beyond that premise — instead re-stating it to no one’s benefit, and to the book’s direct detriment.

Image Comics

What’s it about? Image’s preview reads:

An enormous machine slowly materializes in a major West Coast city. Who sent it–and why–is a mystery, understood only by the malevolent beings gliding silently toward Earth through the inky vastness of space. In response, a multinational combat brigade called Gladiator Two-Six is deployed. Outfitted with next-generation military science and weapons, they’re tasked with stopping any extraterrestrial threat that emerges.

It’s, on a service level, an intriguing plot that offers up the idea of a slightly more pointed, darker Letter 44 with a tightly scripted military story to boot. However, this introductory issue never gets to those things. In fact, it never really gets to anything that isn’t in that very premise aside from some floaty pontificating in the introduction from what may be our main character (It’s hard to tell) without any real significance. The narrative floats from scene to scene, backwards in time, to events that establish a rigid timeline for our central alien invasion but fail to establish any interesting characters or narrative hooks along the way aside from “it’s weird huh!” and “military words!”. It’s a swing and a miss that could’ve been so easily avoided by introducing more elements or threads, which I believe are likely coming in follow-up issues, but are so sorely missing here.

Image Comics

The art, save for the fantastically varied and transformative color work done by Brad Simpson, is similarly spartan and featureless. Nigh everyone here is a sharp featured, stern faced military personnel with little character or unique flair. Scenes are well composed and choreographed, but largely lacking in any real exciting element aside from competent, which is hardly all that a sci-fi comic, or even a near-future military one, can aspire to.

All in all, not a stellar debut for a book that predicates itself on such a strong premise. One that I definitely have hopes for turning into something more than the sum of its current parts, of course, but one that I suggest holding out on until it’s a little more fully formed.

The Warning #1
Is it good?
Offering little nothing outside of introduction of its admittedly compelling core premise, this first issue of The Warning is featureless and off-putting. It's not particularly offensive or inoffensive, and that's the very problem with it.
Simpson's colors convey time, place, and character all very well and make scenes feel unique and transformative as the book jumps around the timeline.
Laroche has a sharp eye for composition; several panels are competently choreographed with some cool-looking military tech and techniques.
Almost nothing happens outside of setting up the core premise of the book, and it's all done by a characterless, featureless cast that feels as if they're being puppeted in service of the cliffhanger.

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