In Review: The Discipline #1

A slow start turns intriguing, leaving me wanting to see where this is heading.

The cover: Protagonist Melissa Peake is in a dark room, thinking she’s alone. However, the opposite becomes apparent when a huge clawed hand sneaks over her left shoulder, beginning to pull her blouse down. I admit it, it was this image that caught my attention. This is a strong image which I’m surprised to see on a comic book. The emotion on Melissa and the owner of that evil looking hand had me intrigued and I had to see what was going on. The image by Leandro Fernandez is good – Like I said, it got my attention – and the colors by Cris Peter are also strong, which give this moment a deliciously dark night time flavor. Overall grade: A

The story: The first two pages of this tale from writer Peter Milligan opens like something from a supernatural version of Species: a male and female demon are having sex, but during the final moment, the female looks up at the male who has transformed into a human. He smiles down at her hungrily, their intimacy ended, saying, “Take a…deep breath…Good. Welcome to the Discipline.” The scene has then shifted to the characters being completely human, naked in a loft of a skyscraper. He looks calm, while she looks shocked at what’s happened. The story then goes back to “Earlier…” as Melissa is trying to see her sick mother, who’s cared for by poor sister Krystal. She’s given vitriol from her sibling and ultimately doesn’t get to see her mom, though she hears her speak. This depressing life moment leads to another night, home alone, because her husband’s going to late again. There’s not much sympathy to be had for rich, lonely, sexual starved Melissa. Things get interesting when antagonist (or is he?) Orlando spies her in a museum looking a painting of mythological-sexual imagery. His entrance brings some spark into her life, though he only keeps her company; though there is an outing of his choosing to an unintentionally hilarious location that begs the question how hard up is Melissa? When Orlando does make a move on Page 16, it’s extremely creepy, and an unexpected arrival twists the story in a new direction. The story is pretty pat until the action on 16, but there are tons of questions with no answers, only teases. In for a penny, in for a pound; I’m more than willing to see where Milligan is going because I’ve yet to read anything by him that wasn’t interesting to read. Still, this takes a while to get going. Overall grade: B-

The art: This is my first exposure to the illustrations of Leandro Fernandez and he’s very impressive. The opening two pages are an extremely clever way to show sex, without showing the act itself. The two pages are composed of eight horizontal panels where things are intimated but not explicitly shown: it’s an excellent way to get readers drawn into the art – “Am I really seeing what I’m seeing?” – where imagination goes further than the actual visual. The reveal on Page 3 is dramatic, though there’s a lot of space wasted showing off the ceiling rather than the characters; it almost seemed as though the title was given more space than was needed. Pages 5 and 6 nicely show off Melissa’s home and New York City. These pages provide a slick and shocking contrast to the scenes showing the protagonist’s thoughts about consummation. Page 17 is an outstanding full paged splash that shows an unexpected arrival from a bird’s eye view down into the room; the perspective is great and the mini-blinds and shattered glass are spectacular. The way in which Orlando has to travel to a new location is icky cool, and where he ends up on the final two pages is unquestionably bizarre and utterly fascinating. If the story hadn’t already hooked me into returning, these visuals certainly have. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The pale, limited colors of the book, from Cris Peter, definitely create a mood for the issue, but after I had finished the book I wondered if it was the right one. Peter excels on the scenes in the dark and the shadow. The dark colors within dark scenes make the action very realistic, such as on the opening three pages. However, in the daylight, such as on Pages 4 – 6 the pale colors make New York seem empty of life. Yes, it does mirror Melissa’s life, but to the point where the washed out colors of day seem unimportant, making it seem as though Melissa is unimportant. There’s not enough of a contrast between the light in this book to provide some emotional punch to the story that might have existed had the differences between night and day been stronger. The final six pages of the book are the best, and that’s also when the story really ramps up. The colors are okay, but not assisting the visuals. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Opening credits on the second page, dialogue, screams, the opening title, scene settings, a phone message, Orlando’s narration, a conversation with Orlando from an unknown speaker, and sounds come from the extremely talented Simon Bowland. The tall, thin font of the dialogue makes every line spoken in this book seem important and the sounds and screams are strong. Orlando’s narration is also well done; it’s always cool to see lower case letters seen in a comic. I would have liked to have seen a much more different font used for scene settings, but the rest of Bowland’s is so strong, that’s a minor nit. Overall grade: A

The final line: A slow start turns intriguing, leaving me wanting to see where this is heading. Milligan’s track record is drawing me back, as are the strong visuals by Fernandez. Is this horror or psychological thriller? Next issue may tell. Overall grade: B-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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