Best Foot Forward features outstanding comics that create an amazing, memorable, and impactful first issue.
Written By: Matt Hawkins
Art By: Raffaele Ienco
Cover By: Raffaele Ienco
Published: December 9, 2015 by Image Comics
Immediately out of the gate, my first thought when I saw this comic was, “Is that Chris Pine on the cover?” And to answer that, no, it’s not Chris Pine. Instead, it just has a very similar resemblance to him, or at least that’s what I thought. As for the rest of the cover, it’s intriguing and grabbed my eye. The cover plays off the name of the comic by mirroring many things, but noticeably, as you can see below, not everything.
On the left half of the comic you have a woman, dressed in dark clothes facing a man, on the right (not Chris Pine) dressed in white. Right down the middle you have this stacked row of robotic looking men dressed in black suits. Then, right in the middle of these robotic men, there’s a very odd looking robot with a giant red dome for a head. This stack of robot people have their arms extended outward to the left and right portraying a wall between the man and woman. You get the sense that these robotic people are attempting to keep these two apart, or at the very least, there’s conflict between everyone. Based on the cover alone, I was curious about this book. I’m a sucker for science fiction, especially in comics, and this cover dug in deep for me.
Once we get inside the book, we’re given the foundations of the world in which this story is told. Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., has become ubiquitous, and mankind has used it in the form of SOL (System Optimizer for Longevity) to create a more peaceful world. In exchange for this peace, mankind had to sacrifice: “ambition, diversity, creativity, and instruments of capital…eliminated for the greater good.”
Everyone has been given their own personal A.I., which has been joined with their brain in order to connect them with SOL and their community. This A.I., named RAINA (Responsive Artificial Intelligence Network Archetypes), we learn, is connected to everyone at birth. Society is then formed around four basic pillars: community, peace, harmony, and equality. Robots have taken over all labor, and humanity is now living in a harmonious age. To quote the book, “It had finally found Symmetry.”
Now all this exposition and world building is done on page one. Why? Because by page three, we can see, it’s all a lie. Everything we read on page one is meant to build up an idea, which is then shattered almost immediately. Personally, I love this. We’re given so much, using so little. This quick build up and tear down skyrockets the story using three pages worth of space, but it pushes the story along so far that we can get to the good stuff without endless pages of world building.
After the opening scene we are given a wonderful picture of just how much humanity has sacrificed in order to achieve this false sense of harmony. Over the next ten pages we are walked from birth to adulthood by following the main character of the book, Michael. We, as readers, are given in very clear detail how much this harmonious life would cost us personally. Yet, for Michael, the world is as it should be. We, the readers, are comfortably settled in to Michael’s world. Then, out of no where, the Sun goes and screws everything up, the major conflict of the story is established, you flip a couple more pages and find out that you now have a major desire for more this book.
As for the particulars of the book, it’s well done. The art and coloring fit with the storytelling very well. Artist Raffaele Ienco is an extremely talented person. His panel pacing, angles, and facial expressions all do their job wonderfully. The writing, done by Matt Hawkins, is superb. The book is 27 pages long and I never felt bogged down or bored. Hawkins does a great job with pacing, and his story beats strike at just the right time. The dialogue never felt wordy or clunky, and overall, this is a well-crafted science fiction comic that has forgone the stereotypical hero, space adventure, in lieu of telling a wonderful story about the consequences of automated world peace.