Comics should be challenging. Hell, all good entertainment should be challenging. But comics especially should make you work for it. A good comic will challenge your preconceived notions about what the medium can do and make you reevaluate what you enjoy about comics. Ales Kot and artist Morgan Jeske’s new project, Change, out today through Image Comics challenges its readers more than anything I have had the pleasure to read lately.
Kot’s narrative and Jeske’s artwork harmoniously work together to create a first issue that is so unique and so brokenly beautiful that I cannot even make it 100 words into my review without imploring you to go out and get a copy. Right now.
I will be completely honest here: I am still not completely sure what Change is about. I can give you the general pitch that I myself received; it is a story that follows a struggling screenwriter, a filthy rich rapper, and a dying astronaut returning to earth. Central to the story is the city of Los Angles, the locale for this cast of characters that is facing its certain doom. The characters and the city are in a loop it seems, destined to face their challenges ad infinitum. I got all of that in the first issue, but I was also left with the sense that there is so much more yet to be revealed. More importantly, I got the sense that I so desperately want more to be revealed.
However, it is not necessarily the narrative elements of Change that have me gushing over this comic just one issue into it. The overall feel of Kot and Jeske’s project is what makes me love this first issue and yearn to get my hands on the rest of the story. In an interview with Newsarama last month, Kot mentioned that Change was a story intended to make you think and feel things. To make you feel alive. Well, I can, without hyperbole, say that in these few pages Kot and Jeske had to work with, they have gone well beyond that intention. There is so much weight on every page of this book. The art is stunning and original. Jeske puts so much on these pages and with such depth and detail that I will be shocked if the splash pages from this first issue don’t immediately start making the rounds in the weekly “best panels” features certain comic sites feature. His line flows wonderfully and the amount of ink he puts on these pages is just astounding. Part of the beauty of Jeske’s work is that it is, quite literally in places, spilling out of the panels. It feels heavy and dirty, but at the same time smooth and accessible. It is exactly what sci-fi comics should strive for. Scratch that. It’s what all comics should strive for.
I’d like to particularly highlight the coloring in this book, as it is singlehandedly what had me reading and re-reading this issue all week. Each character perspective seems to have its own color pallet that only helps in the early characterization. Jeske’s rendering of the sky throughout this issue has me completely awestruck. He manages to capture something so real and so dynamic that you just have to sit back in amazement.
I also have to recognize Ales Kot’s immense talents displayed in this first issue. I have yet to properly rave about his writing, but I certainly should. Kot can turn a phrase better than most other writers I’m reading at the moment. There is just a litany of amazingly witty and clever moments throughout the story. Character development in this first issue is incredibly organic and built around sharp, natural dialogue. Kot manages to shift deftly between character perspectives while maintaining a cohesive narrative.
The narrative flow, however, has a very unique structure to it that breaks down in places making the reader feel the disjointed, fragmented structure of the story. As chaos enters, panels multiply and break apart and the story-telling methods begin to match the plot of the comic. I cannot wait to see where Kot is taking this story and how he accomplishes the very bold goals he has for the comic.
I know this is a long review, but I have not even said half of what I would like to say about Kot and Jeske’s effort on the fist issue of Change. If you skip the rest of overly verbose review please at least read this little bit: read Change! This is the start of something absolutely amazing and I can promise you, you are going to be on board from the word, “go.” Give Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske a chance with this first issue of Change. They deserve it.