Backtrack #1 Review

by Jay Hill on February 08, 2020

Written by: Brian Joines
Art by: Jake Elphick
Colors by: Doug Garbark
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
Published by: Oni Press

On your mark. Get set. Go… back in time. In Backtrack #1, Alyson Levy is in a race to the finish and through the ages. She’s part of a time-traveling car race that promises the winner the chance to go back in time to fix one mistake they’ve made. She’d have this race in the bag if she owned a DeLorean.

After a quick flashforward, the first hints of the story playing with time, it doesn’t take long for the book to get us familiar with Alyson as a character. It shows clearly, she is dealing with grief and guilt, it shows her current lot in life, and it gives a brief glimpse of the event that has brought her to this low point. While she’s at the bar, drowning her sorrows, an interesting man approaches her and starts to speak as if he knows her. She, on the other hand, is unfamiliar with the character. He mentions her past as a “wheelman” and a heist she took part in, presumably the one that went bad and led her to find solace in drink. This is when he informs her of a race that will give the winner the chance to right one wrong. After being given some convincing evidence the man, named Quellex, is telling the truth, she wills herself into joining the race. This is the jumping-off point for the main story to begin. The idea of a race through time is interesting already, but the characterization of Alyson and the idea that this is her chance to fix things put the “time race” narrative through the perfect lens. Added to Alyson is the cast of characters who are also taking place in the race, all with their reasons for doing so. That aspect leaves the story open for some really interesting things to take place. Although not many other characters were focused on, in this issue, there is one who we see that has a very intriguing reason for entering the race and adds some complexity to the story. Quellex, the race coordinator, is also an interesting character and I look forward to more being explained about him. This was a very good issue with the potential to be an amazing series. It is reminiscent of cartoons like Speed Racer and Wacky Races, mixed with blockbuster movies like Fast & Furious and that one with the crazy scientist who built a car that travels through time and the main character that thinks his mom is hot. Writer Brian Joines has crafted a great first issue and thought up a compelling story. Now it’s in his hands to get this baby up to 88 mph.

A story as cool and flashy as one about a highspeed race through history got art that packs as much flavor as the narrative. Jake Elphick has an art style that is heavy on the style and the art. The visuals in this comic are crisp and eye-catching. His use of scratchy shadows is reminiscent of one of my favorite artists, (hope neither mind the comparison) Matteo Scalera. And he has a swooping nature to his lines that makes shots feel dynamic. He also uses some pretty unique shots that keep the comic feeling fresh. The red-yellow-green light shot where the panels went down and it felt like a movie poster was great. Along with the full-page shot later on in the book when it is made clear that they aren’t in the present anymore. And, the close-up panels of all the racers on one page, felt like a scene from an anime. And, there is some intricate color work done by Doug Garbark who uses some great blending and brushing, particularly on skin. And, his palette is absolutely tasty. Some colors show up and it’s just the perfect bit of vibrance needed to make a shot pop. The opening panels of Alyson’s eye highlight his palette with the steely blue used, that he blends and brushes for detail and the subtle coloring of her skin and hair. Bravo to the art team, these visuals are incredible. I didn’t recognize it before, but this same team did art on a “Sports Entertainment” book I loved the art on. So, double bravo.

Backtrack #1 is a creator-owned comic that proves this is the medium to go to for new and interesting ideas. The story in this first issue has no filler added and the art cuts no corners. There is definite creativity and talent on display here. If you pick up this book, I guarantee something in it will grab you.

Our Score:


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