by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson
Orange and blue, a color contrast that has a fantastic effect on the mind is the visual aesthetic chosen for the coloring in Ei8ht #1 by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson. With both creators contributing to the story, and Albuquerque on art and colors, the talent in the book is quite apparent. Ei8ht is an engaging new series that opens with an excellent first issue.
When the book opens, the creators present a strange title page that associates colors with periods in time before a facing page that is wordless and features a smoking machine of sorts. It’s strange, it’s certainly unique and it will have readers settling in to a very exciting and very opaque first issue. Albuquerque and Johnson are each working on the story for Ei8ht, and each deserve many accolades for crafting one of the best openings to a series in a good while. The presentation of issue one splits the events just before and just after the phase shift. Joshua, the book’s lead, is reluctantly manning this mission. While readers see the protagonist try to recall who he is or what he is meant to do, the book cuts back and forth, filling in a bit about his mission. Johnson’s script is fantastic, matching the present movements and dangers perfectly with pieces from just before his launch. The cutting between the two storylines never gets distracting. It is quite the opposite, in fact, as the tension is only intensified by this decision.
It is not clear just when this tale is meant to take place, nor why it is that Joshua is being sent to the past. Or, come to think of it, when in the past he is being sent. Actually, much of the first issue remains a mystery. The tale that Albuquerque and Johnson have crafted is as exciting as a story can be without telling much of anything about what is going on. In many ways, Ei8ht #1 is very much a fish out of water tale. In addition, bits about Joshua’s motivation and deal with the scientist are obscured. Johnson’s control with information and reveal, set through fantastic pacing, work so well in this opening issue. Each page drops little teases and mysteries making the experience equal parts exciting and maddening. By the end of the book, readers will have a good bit of information but even more holes and question marks circling their minds.
For the most frustrated by the plot, to those completely on board with this type of writing, it is hard to find flaw in the art. Rafael Albuquerque, known for his stunning work with Scott Snyder, brings some of his best to this series. There is so much new in this world and Albuquerque has his work cut out for him in just how much he has to create, and yet how little he is revealing page after page. The story shows just what it needs to, matching the approach of Johnson, and making fantastic decisions in perspective, creation and layouts. Albuquerque’s coloring is quite pretty, and, mixed with what almost looks like pen-work, Ei8ht is gorgeous.
By the end of the story, it is clear that the creators have a grand vision for this story. It is hard to decide just what mystery is the most intriguing and what will follow in issue two. What is going on in that stand-alone page of a future city where roses are exchanged? The only way to find out is to get on board. Ei8ht looks destined to be one of the years best.