This week on my Small Press Spotlight series, I have Terry Moore’s Echo as brought to us by his creator owned imprint Abstract Studio. This is the first creator owned imprint, creator owned release I’ve looked at here. Such is the life of Moore, one of the most renowned creators of the past couple decades as his long running and highly acclaimed series Strangers in Paradise captured the hearts of many until its conclusion in 2007. Shortly after that, Moore created Echo and quickly received applause for it, and deservedly so, as this science fiction adventure (can’t really think of a better way to describe it) story is quite exceptional.
See why after the break.
Echo is the story of Julie Martin, a young photographer on the precipice of divorce and a relatively wayward existence, and the extraordinary life change she undergoes when she accidentally witnesses the explosion of a high tech battle suit and its pilot, Dr. Annie Trotter. After this happens, portions of the suit (in the form of small pellets) fall upon Martin’s body and they eventually begin bonding with her body. As we move along Martin starts developing rather intense powers but we do not really have a good grasp as to why that is at this point.
Given the nature of the explosion (it was rather nefarious) and the millions upon millions of dollars put into this suit, this makes Martin a hot item for a team at the Phi Project (a lab that develops high level military hardware). Very quickly the cast builds, including Trotter’s boyfriend (or I suppose ex given that she was blown up) and partner-in-crime to Julie (literally, most often) Dillon, a morally ambiguous NSB Agent that is tracking Julie named Ivy Raven, and a motley crew of other well drawn characters. Raven in particular is a great read, as the precision she demonstrates on the job and her wavering ties to the Phi Project make her a remarkably interesting character.
Like Greg Rucka and Brian Michael Bendis, one of Moore’s exceptional strengths is his ability to develop three dimensional female characters while really capturing their voice as well. Julie Martin is his most recent creation and what a success in alchemy she is. She is the backbone of the story, and with her being such a rich and emotionally real character it allows everything else to work. That includes the more science heavy aspects, the interpersonal moments between her and Dillon or her sister Pam, the surprisingly gruesome action scenes, and the rest. Without her we wouldn’t have a real pressing interest in the story, but her continual development is impossible to not follow. Throw in the ongoing mystery of the battle suit and the organization behind it and you have one well written and exciting title.
Moore is not a flashy artist by any means. His style is all clean lines, shades of black and white, and expressive faces. Nothing about it really leaps off the page, yet his imagery is powerful and effective. Sort of like The Brave and the Bold‘s Jesus Saiz, Moore strips the flash out of his art to work at a pure storytelling level. There is no fluff on these pages, just the minimum amount of work and an economy of lead to express the story in the best way possible. This wouldn’t work for every title, but for Moore it works splendidly.
This title now has three trade paperbacks out, all of which I highly recommend. If anything this title has ramped up in quality since its inception and is now one of my first reads upon its release. The main problem I have with it is when read in issue form the stories feel a tad brief, but I never really feel robbed because of Moore’s expert pacing and utterly solid draftsmanship. This is another top to bottom success from one of the most illustrious creators in comics today, and a great purely creator owned title that I think anyone and everyone that likes comics should support.