Published on April 29th, 2015 | by Noel Thorne0
Pisces #1 Review
I’m going to talk about the details of this comic, particularly the end, which some might consider spoilers as opposed to an actual review of the issue, so if you’re looking for a simple yay or nay on this, absolutely check it out – Pisces #1 is a winner!
A stormy evening and a drunk driver, already badly injured, crashes into the back of a parked ambulance. He stumbles into the hospital looking for the woman who’s giving birth to their son. Another stormy evening and a man drags his unconscious co-pilot out of a river after their plane was shot down. They’re in the jungle in the middle of the Vietnam war – and the Vietcong are on their heels. An astronaut floats in space. These are all seemingly the experiences of one-man – or are they? Welcome to Pisces.
Not being someone who gives a fig for horoscopes I decided to check out what the pisces symbol is all about and discovered something that might help explain what the story is. Pisces, the symbol, translates as “fishes” – plural – represented by two fish connected by a cord. Besides the prominent water imagery throughout, the final image we see is of Dillon – our anti-hero – floating in space in an astronaut suit, his support cord connected to something, presumably the ship – or maybe another Dillon? Is this about two men/twins connected somehow?
Not that that solves anything – the story is still very much shrouded in mystery as to what the different threads mean. More so the final word he speaks, a name, in the style of Charles Foster Kane at the start of Citizen Kane who whispers “Rosebud”, igniting the story that follows, explaining the man and the meaning of the word.
The two stories presented to us are interesting though the second more so than the first. The opening one where a drunk Dillon is beaten unconscious by a man called Samuel – a friend, a brother-in-law, a co-worker, we don’t know – after he tries to see the mother of his son and his son, is a bit cheesy. It felt very soap-opera-y and almost comical in the ridiculously destructive way Dillon comports himself.
The second is much more gripping. We’re instantly in the shit, two pilots shot down over enemy territory in Vietnam, Dillon’s co-pilot Henry injured, the pair hiding out for dear life. Once again it doesn’t make us like Dillon more as he makes a selfish choice, but it’s still exciting to see how he survives, makes contact with base and gets to an extraction point.
Kurtis Wiebe knows when to let the art take over and the use of silent panels is very effective at creating tension here. Dillon and Henry hiding out in the brush during the storm was well conveyed – one panel the scene is lit by the lightning, the next it’s completely dark, and so on. Light, dark, light dark. Tonally this is very different from Rat Queens – Wiebe’s story is much more brooding and serious than his happy-go-lucky fantasy series.
There’s an absence of an internal monologue from Dillon so we’re kept at arm’s length away from understanding him further as well as figuring out what’s happening. It’s an effective choice that keeps the reader guessing.
Johnnie Christmas’ art is outstanding. I loved his work on Sheltered but he’s really upped his game for Pisces. The Vietnam sequence stands out in particular – gorgeous landscapes contrast with brutal violence, all given a rich glow with Tamra Bonvillain’s colours. Just incredible. The transitions are also seamless which is remarkable given how different each scenario is from the last but the team find a way to link it all together and make it flow beautifully.
Pisces #1 is a puzzle but the pieces that make it up are so compelling that you’re going to want to keep coming back for more to see how it all fits together. Great script from Wiebe, terrific art from Christmas – this first issue is an excellent start to the series. There’s no way of knowing yet whether the mystery will pay off or whether the journey will have been worth it, but, going by this first issue alone and the calibre of the creative team, I’d say it’s definitely worth sticking around for the duration. Pisces is a title definitely worth picking up.
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Johnnie Christmas
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain