Broken World #1
by Frank Barbiere, Christopher Peterson and Marissa Louise
There is no question that the cover of a book has a lot of influence and impact on the potential reader. But, the first page of a new series can sometimes be even more important in convincing an individual to turn the page and invest. In comics, that first page shows readers the art for the book, the new universe and some semblance of the story that has just begun. Broken World #1’s opening page, as depicted by Christopher Peterson and Marissa Lousie, conveys so much information and emotion, it’s a wonder how people move on to page two. But if it is to be an indication in the care put into the pages that would follow, it sets up the book with significant strength.
The stage is set from that point. Though the story does move back a bit in time to fill in a tad more about the state of the world and just who it is that will take center stage in the book, the energy level never dips from this first image. Readers meet Elena Marlowe, professor and mother. She is seeking the assistance of a man named Fletcher. Barbiere and the artists working on this book have an excellent ability when it comes to presenting a lot of information in a very efficient and unassuming way. Within just three pages, readers will have such a strong sense of the status quo in this new universe, as well as some inclination about the protagonist and a few others. In addition, every conversation has a level of tension that comes about both in the information that is communicated as well as the blunt text periodically placed in the page to update readers on the countdown to impact.
Over the course of this first issue, readers are presented with four major sequences. In each, Barbiere uses a very natural script, using background televisions and routine conversations to cover a lot of ground. The book never comes close to feeling oversaturated in the information that it presents. Following Elena’s exchange with Fletcher, readers find out that she is a professor and the discussion in her class leads to more terms including “Pax,” “Children of the Revelation,” and the possibility that this entire movement off planet may be predicated on a lie. Information, misinformation, and lies abound over the course of the issue and the ticking clock only adds to the suspense building. Christopher Peterson’s pencils and beautifully subtle colors from Marissa Louise display a calm and simple world. Despite this book taking place at some point in the future, and the world hours away from destruction, the pages feel serene in most instances. Partially due to the white boarders in the page, and partly due to the intact nature of the settings that are displayed, the sense of calm that comes across through visuals makes for a very interesting pairing to the unsettling and tense undertone of the script and dialogue.
For as much as Barbiere and the art team communicate to the readers in this opening issue, there are a number of pieces that are insinuated. The end result is an issue that feels incredibly developed and dense while building a massive sense of intrigue about the universe and conflict presented. Elena Marlowe feels like a character that is rather transparent, and yet a few oddities call almost all of what has been presented into question. Coupled with a fantastic final act, and Broken World #1 makes for a very impressive start to a book that will have readers coming out to their local shops the first chance they can to see what happens next.