Friday, May 20, 2011

Nonplayer #1 of 6

Writer/Artist: Nate Simpson
Company: Image Comics

Is Nonplayer the Avatar of the comics world?  From a visual perspective, that may be a fairly good analysis.  From a story point of view, Nonplayer removes a honed longsword from its sheathe, paints some war paint on its face, does a base jump off of a skyscraper and proceeds to go to town on said movie.

And let me tell you, it does goes to town.

This being Nate Simpson's first foray into the comics industry, it's a damn impressive opening salvo.  Previous to this he was working on video game concept art, and while I'm sure his work there was beautiful, the work that has been put into the pages of this comic is mind blowing.

While it's easy to focus on the artwork of the book, the story of Nonplayer is just as solid.  It revolves around a young girl named Dana Stevens, who is basically fed up with the monotony of her real life and has more or less retreated into the sprawling fantasy world of a video game named Jarvath.  Think World of Warcraft or any one of a hundred MMOs that are out on the market and you wouldn't be too far off.  It's a fairly straight forward story, one that we could say we've seen before, but Simpson throws in a few surprises and twists that aren't typical for such a story that keep you invested and interested.

One of the main things is that this is a story that many people can instantly relate to.  Gaming is a modern day past time and the ability to sink into another story that allows us to be a Ninja or an Orc or a Master Spy is intriguing and exciting, something that our regular lives sometimes lack.  It's also nice that Simpson doesn't try to explain everything.  He ushers you through the world and the characters expertly without loading it down with extraneous data that just seems to fill and hang there lifeless on the page.  The whole thing has a very organic feel to it, much in the same way that Dana's character feels.  She isn't the typical character and Simpson gives her more of a hook as the story progresses and allows the reader to connect with her.

Still, I would be remiss if I didn't revisit the art.  To put it plainly, it's gorgeous.  It's slick, engrossing, detailed and immersive.  And it's the details I want to talk about for a second.  Like Brandon Graham, Nate Simpson packs each panel to the brim, yet somehow makes it seem uncluttered and clean which is an insanely difficult thing to accomplish.  There's also the influence of European artist Moebius, which is pretty apparent, but it's not a complete copy.  Simpson has his own style and it's a style that works.

More than anything, the art is what is going to get people to pick up the book.  That's a given.  It's a high budget summer blockbuster, for sure, but this one doesn't skimp on the story like some others that I could name.  The one downside to all of this though is that second issue will be a little while in the making.  That said, the net result, if he can keep to these high standards, will be well worth it.

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