Michael Cray #1
Writer: Bryan Hill
Penciller: N. Steven Harris
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Simon Bowels
Publisher: DC Comics
I love Wildstorm by Warren Ellis, so, when DC announced a spin-off about the super-secret agent Michael Cray, I was all in. Plus, with the wonderful Postal writer Bryan Hill, I eagerly anticipated this series.
In the main Wildstorm book, Michael Cray is an operative working for International Operations. This changes dramatically over the course of the first 6/7 issues because he comes to the stark realization that he is working for the wrong side. Also, he has a brain tumor that will most certainly kill him. Facing immediate death, at any moment, due to an inoperable tumor does funny things to a person’s moral compass. Enter Christine Trelane and “Executive Protection Services.” In Michael Cray #1, our eponymous protagonist is given the opportunity to use his skill set to take out the right people.
The first two pages of this comic do an amazing job of introducing the character to the audience. It immediately establishes who this character is and what drives him. This is done in 8 panels over 2 pages, and I really must tip my hat to Bryan Hill and Steven Harris because even if you don’t know anything about the character and haven’t read the main book, the reader knows enough to get through this book.
Bryan Hill first came on my radar when I was reading Postal. I thought that book was being written by Matt Hawkins, and honestly, that is what drew me to the book. However, about 3 or 4 issues into the run, Matt Hawkins reveals that it was actually Bryan Hill who was writing the book. This clever move introduced me to a writer that otherwise I would never have read. Since then, he has done books at Image, a short story at Marvel and now he has his own book partnered with Warren Ellis. For me, he was the main selling point of this book. The dialogue and the well-parsed sentences are of a poetic quality: “This world can be fun, but it isn’t kind.” This poignant line stuck with me in a way few lines from a comic ever do.
Steven Harris is an artist who has worked with James Robinson on Starman, and he, along with Grant Morrison, is the co-creator of Aztec. DC has a house style, and Harris’s art does not fall into the house style. I think that’s a good thing. His art has a more sinewy, languid style to it. Gone are the typical hyper-muscular frames that normally grace the panels in comic books. Instead, we see character models that are lithe and have a predatory feel to them.
Verdict: Buy it! Michael Cray #1 has a different feel to it than most books on the stand; it has a heart. I think this book is going to be a character-driven drama that touches on issues that are politically relevant, like gentrification. I’m in for the long haul with Michael Cray, and I encourage you to join me.