No. 1 With a Bullet #1
Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Jen Hickman
Publisher: Image Comics
A Review by Greg Brothers
Let’s be honest: the internet and social media can be a double-edged sword. You can easily promote things that you are interested in, share experiences with friends and family, and even use it to vent sometimes. On the other hand, when you share, there are always liable to be detractors, many of whom just do it to troll people. So, what do you do about it? Do you shut down all social media accounts? Do you learn to “deal” with trolls? Or do you try to build online communities that foster healthy relationships? And what do you do when you are hacked, or when something you might not want shared ends up out there in the world?
Social media and all its positives and pitfalls are the backdrop for No. 1 With a Bullet. Nash Huang is a personal assistant working in the entertainment business. Her boss Jad Davies is the host of a popular television show. Davies works hard to keep himself and his audience connected. And Nash herself loves the to share her life with her social media followers, even if at times it annoys her girlfriend. So, when a stranger introduces himself at a rooftop bar, it is not that concerning. Then he makes a choice that has dire consequences, but is only the beginning of events that will turn Nash Huang’s life upside down.
From the beginning you are thrown right in the middle of the action as Jad has Nash in the middle of a virtual reality experiment. Corona’s art and Hickman’s colors give this distorted reality feel as the smiles and laughs of those around Nash are distorted and menacing, while bright yellows contrast with blacks and blues to help push that contrast. From there, Semahn uses No. 1 With a Bullet #1 to introduce us to several different characters, all of whom could be related to the mystery that is about to begin. Each of these characters and interactions feels natural, and serve their purpose for advancing the story nicely. While putting all the pieces into place, No. 1 With a Bullet #1 also starts its goal of critiquing social media. The complaint of being more engaged with social media followers than those you are with IRL is one that most readers have had. It is touched on briefly here, as is the discussion of whose fault it is if someone is “hacked” and things that may be considered too personal are out there. Fortunately, this comic is not preachy in any way and, in fact, it should lead people to think about their own social media habits.
I touched on it earlier, but the art throughout No. 1 With a Bullet #1 is bright and inviting. Even outside of the virtual reality world panels, the oranges and reds are bright and bold. In many ways it reminds you that these characters are living in a very digital world. While the colors remind you of a digital future, the character designs are very much grounded in reality. It is subtle, but it reminds the reader how close to our reality this world really is. I struggle with how to describe the art style in the book. Maybe a westernized manga? While the expressions are muted throughout, things like over exaggerated hair and clothing is the norm.
Buy it! No. 1 With a Bullet #1 is a brilliant start to what is a very intriguing concept for a comic book. Several key characters and questions are put into place so that the mystery can be developed later. The start of the exploration of social media and its pros and cons is done in a critical way without being preachy. Grab a copy, read it and share your thoughts on social media…if you dare mwhahahahahaha.