Best Foot Forward features outstanding comics that create an amazing, memorable, and impactful first issue.
Written By: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis
Published: Sept 14, 2016 by Image Comics
I often think about what it would be like to be in space, look out of a window, and see a planet. Any planet would do, but the most thrilling I think would be Earth. The idea of being so far from home, while looking down upon it would be thrilling to say the least. I can’t imagine the emotions that surge through astronauts when they see Earth for the first time. Of course, being trapped inside of a somewhat large tube, surrounded by the same people day in and day out, might start to wear on the nerves. Now imagine being stuck inside a rather confined space, such as a space ship, knowing one of your crew-mates may have been murdered. Toss in some greedy government conspiracies, and what you have is Hadrian’s Wall by Image Comics.
There’s a common scenario that’s thrown around in movies and books that involves a mystery of mysteries. How does a person, isolated in a room, with no way out or in, become the victim of a murder? It’s one of the more exciting plots to traverse as a writer, and even more thrilling for the reader because of the impossibility of the situation. Regardless, in all good mystery stories, logic and rationale win out, and the case is solved. Hadrian’s Wall not only takes that idea and spins it slightly, but it complicates it by adding multiple people to the situation.
Sure, the victim was surrounded by people, but by putting all those people in space aboard a ship, what you leave in tact is the isolation aspect of the mystery. There’s no way for the murderer to flee the scene. Therefore, when the investigator, in this case Simon Moore, arrives aboard the ship, Hadrian’s Wall, he’s confronted by the fact that someone is a murderer. He just has to figure out who and why.
The thought of willingly submitting yourself to a situation wherein you’re guaranteed to be trapped inside this confined space with a murderer is trippy. Especially when, as it happens in the comic, we’re introduced to every single passenger aboard Hadrian’s Wall. This means, as a reader, we’ve seen the killer already. We’ve read about them in some capacity, and in this first issue, we learn something about them. They’re personalized for us as Moore calls each of them into his interrogation. He asks personal questions, tries to establish motive and create a timeline. We the readers are confronted with the fact that as we progress through this story, the murderer can be anyone, even a character that we might connect with.
Honestly, it’s these types of stories that grab me each and every time. The idea of being trapped with a murderer, someone who had no problem killing, and who knows that someone is hunting them down, well, it just triggers all my senses and I enjoy every minute of it.
Beyond this wonderfully crafted story, and of course the fact that it’s science fiction (my truest of loves) we have page after page of beautiful art. I knew a little about the story of Hadrian’s Wall before I purchased it, mainly the sci-fi murder mystery, however, once I picked it up and flipped a couple pages, the art definitely sold me.
I love books that find an artist who brings a totally different style to the genre. Sure, there are plenty of artists who have a classic comic book feel to their style, however, it’s always nice to see something refreshing. Rod Reis, who I was not familiar with before this book, brings such an interest dynamic to this story through his art that it really added another dimension to the already great story. Instead of the typical pencils and inks, with the black outlines and crosshatching, Reis brings a painterly style that is just wonderful. Beyond that, his work isn’t vibrant, instead he uses more earth tones to capture the darker feeling of being aboard this vessel. In certain situations I even noticed some warmer colors offset with darker backgrounds which really sets the mood throughout the entire issue.
I’ve said it many times before, and I’m going to say it again, there’s nothing more powerful in a comic than a good, clever, well told story being enhanced by an artist who adds depth and mood through the visual aspect of the book. Hadrian’s Wall is such a book, and I’ll be darned if this hasn’t been added to my pull list. As of the time I’m writing this, issue two has already landed with issue three hitting this week, and thus far, things are getting far more intense, and the story has completely engulfed me. This is definitely one to pick up.