Jack in the Box #1

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
This is a very odd and mysterious first chapter of a seven issue mini-series. It tells the story of two humans abducted by strange alien creatures, and their very different reactions to being set free in the regular world.

One human is the titular character, a man named Jack who, when we first meet him, literally is in a box. Jack was kidnapped as a baby by aliens, and has lived the whole of his 20 years stuck in a padded cell reading odd and obscure alien texts about life on Earth.

Naturally, when freed from his box, Jack freaks out. He's consumed by panic about life in the real world. There are so many people in real life, and everything is much less under control than he ever dreamed it would be.

While wandering free around a big city, Jack stumbles over Amelia, a woman whose experience with aliens was much more positive than Jack's. After rescuing her as a baby from the car crash that killed her parents, Amelia lives a pretty happy existence with her group of aliens, and seems to be fairly well adjusted in contrast with Jack.

Amelia feels a certain amount of empathy for Jack, stating at one point, "We have to help him. He's in pain. He's frightened. I can help him." It seems like the rest of this series might be about putting the two characters together and having them really connect in deep ways.

This comic is one of the first releases of a small British publisher called C2D4 Comics. All three of their comics I've seen so far are digest-sized, mostly black-and-white 20-page comics. They feel more like fanzines than slick comic books, and this comic is no exception to that rule. Jack in the Box is obviously a labor of love by Buxton and Wicks, and this is a comic that they evidently have been thinking about for years.

Buxton and Hicks generally do a pretty good job with this comic. It's interestingly written and competently drawn, with a number of intriguing hooks that are compelling enough to make the reader want to come back and read more of the comic. At the same time, some of the events in the comic seem a bit willfully obscure, as if the creators know their content so well that they sometimes have trouble really conveying that knowledge to a reader.

That spirit leads to many questions. Like why is Amelia always colored red like the aliens that love her? Is that something readers should intuitively grasp, or is it supposed to be weird? Or why was Jack set free in the first place? What odd plan is he acting out?

Wicks's art is attractive but a bit unpolished. He's ambitious, employing interesting angles and unique perspectives, but sometimes his reach exceeds his grasp. There's a scene on a mountaintop, for instance, that doesn't quite look right. If it weren't for the caption informing me that I was seeing a mountaintop, I never would have guessed.

The cool thing about first efforts is that creators often improve. I can't wait to see how the rest of this miniseries works out; this first issue has enough potential to be pretty interesting.

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