Like a dramatic, sci-fi fever dream; the first issue of Edward Laroche’s “The Warning” sets readers on a path of mystery, intrigue, but mostly confusion.
Written and Illustrated by Edward Laroche
Colored by Brad Simpson
Lettered by Jaymes Reed
In the near future, in a west coast city, an enormous machine begins to materialize out of thin air. An elite military squadron is dispatched to determine what this ‘event’ means for humanity.
The premiere issue of “The Warning” is more about actions and mood than plot and explanation. Which is really refreshing to see in a brand new series. Rather than blanketing the pages in text boxes filled with exposition we are treated to inner thoughts and basic conversation dialogue. Laroche takes the writing in a natural direction, bringing us into seemingly random moments in the characters’s lives leading up to and away from ‘the event.’ The entire issue feels like a peek behind the curtain both in the personal and professional lives of these people. Each scene is a piece to an ever-growing puzzle that will take some time to understand let alone complete. Taking a classic science fiction plot and balancing it with a less than formulaic approach keeps “The Warning” from falling into and getting stuck in cliches, even when it presents some of them. The writing’s greatest strength is its believable execution.
The only dialogue in the entire issue are the inner thoughts of our nameless main character, an elite career soldier, authentic military jargon, and bits of conversation that for the time being have no real meaning. The way Laroche handles the storytelling could have ended up being dry, pretentious sci-fi, but it works out great. He keeps the story moving and while he honestly gives us very little to go on, it made the need to know what’s next that much greater. It isn’t often that a story which offers very little in ways of true plot and doesn’t even give character names works as well as this, but in the right hands it does. The unknown really works on your subconscious, as the characters are unsure of what exactly is going on, we are kept in the dark just as much through Laroche’s writing.
This issue is a shining example of when to not spoon feed your audience. This will not appeal to everyone, but it is a well done style. The time jumping and pacing makes for a literary taste test. Giving us just enough to anticipate what comes next. That said, it is difficult to review this issue’s plot as it is an in-cohesive story at this point. The entire issue played with my mood and sensibilities, making me like it even more as I made my way through it.
Laroche pulls double duty here writing and illustrating the entire issue. With the lack of in depth plot, the artwork is the star. His work is finely detailed and his character design moves between a loose, sketchy style to resembling a Richard Linklater roto-scoped film. He shines when working on bright, open pages. While his talent is evident on every page, he tends to over-stuff panels when including more characters and setting.
Brad Simpson’s color work is incredible. Every drawn detail is colored in a realistic manner. His lighting technique allows for superb balance between realism and dramatic effect. Combined with Laroche’s pencils, Simpson’s colors make for one of the most gorgeous sci-fi books hitting shelves right now.
Overall “The Warning” #1 can fairly be labeled as style over substance, but it is handled well enough that it can mostly be forgiven for that. I can’t argue that it was an interesting and bold move to go so light on narrative in a premiere issue. As much as I enjoyed this issue, I wish it had given a bit more, if only to allow for more of a discussion.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – A beautifully bleak sci-fi drama that gives nearly no answers, but it makes up for that with plenty of intrigue, set up, and incredible art.