No World #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Jordan Gunderson
Digital Inks: Mark Roslan, Charlie Mok
Publisher: Aspen Comics
A review by Kylee Sills
Having never picked up an Aspen Comic, I’m not sure whether this was the best or worst place for me to start. No World creates an all-new Aspen Universe that combines characters from three of their other series, including Dellec, Executive Assistant: Iris, and Soulfire, and promises a few new characters in the solicitation, though I don’t think any of the main newcomers made their debut in issue one.
Following a jarring and violent incident at a mall that makes national news, freelance assassin Iris moves to recruit a confused and reluctant middle-of-nowhere diner waitress Miya into fighting a larger conspiracy. But before she can be convinced, they’re interrupted by shadowy men in suits and Miya’s true nature is revealed as Iris shows off her own particular skillset. It’s obvious that these events are linked, but how remains a mystery as one more person makes their entrance at the very end of the issue. Whether they’ll be able to function together – since they’ll obviously be thrown together by circumstances – is a question for the next issue.
With no previous knowledge of the characters, I feel like I have a good grasp on who they are thanks to Scott Lobdell’s writing. There are some stiff portions – particularly in Iris’ introduction – but the banter and skepticism reads true. My problem is that the first four pages of the book happen, then are discussed, then a classic shoot ‘em up scene ensues, and the book ends. It feels like just as the story is gaining momentum and intrigue, it’s over. The pacing was definitely off and the real estate on the page wasn’t utilized as well as it could have been.
Jordan Gunderson’s pencil work is fantastic at rendering emotions on the characters, though there are some narrative leaps that had to be made that the writing and art didn’t cover (mostly, and you’ll know the panel when you see it, how did Iris get to her motorcycle?). The rest of the art team, Mark Roslan and Charlie Mok on digital inks, JUANCHOo on colors, and Zen on letters all help to pull the book together.
There are obvious hints that I, as a reader unfamiliar with Aspen Comics’ other titles, know I’m missing, like a full page spread that seems to draw attention to some figures on the escalator before the mall breaks out into chaos, but as a work judged on its own merit, No World brings together an interesting array of misfits for the investigation of a brutal crime that may have larger consequences than anticipated.
I’m now going to talk about some potential spoilers for the second issue by discussing one of the new characters that has me hesitant to really delve into this series. Back in January, Scott Lobdell tweeted an image of a trans character with the caption, “Former NFL. 6’5 250lbs. She’s here. She’s trans. She’s gonna kick evil’s ass! #gnc #nonbinary #fierceAF” and followed that up with a second tweet regarding the same character and the caption, “#THICKE #PassingIsForFootballs #SuperHeroine #Nonbinary #GNC #FierceAF #Aspencomics #NoWorld”. Some of those hashtags give me hesitations on Lobdell’s ability to respectfully portray a trans character and when you add Lobdell’s previous trans character, Suzie Su, to the mix, I’m downright skeptical about the second issue. Ultimately, it’s up to readers to determine what they accept in their comics, but it is something to keep in mind before investing in the series.
Wait and See – If you’re not already familiar and invested in these characters, this might not be the jumping on point for you; the story is intriguing, but there’s no real forward movement to the plot in this first issue except to smash these characters from separate universes together for future shenanigans. It’s an Intro 101 class to some of Aspen Comics’ well-known titles and it may serve your time better to invest in these characters separately. And while Lobdell’s writing has a conversational ease, the potential for some wildly offensive character portrayals in future issues stymies excitement. Also there are eight (!) variant covers for the first issue alone, good luck picking one!