By Scott Southard. Straight off the guttural satisfaction provided by the last installment of Luther Strode, Justin Jordan breaks into AfterShock’s sterling lineup with another tag team murder-romp through geographically disparate lands.
On paper, Strayer seems to directly mirror Jordan’s previous work on Strode. You take a hulking, stoic, tank of a man and pair him with a quick-witted, agile, much smarter woman and send them on a mission across all worlds and against all odds in an attempt to save whatever poses as humanity at the given moment. And really, it doesn’t stray far from the previous material. It’s a good thing that the old Strode stuff rules, because it feels like Strayer might be a perfect follow up to parallel it.
I’m a sucker for a first issue that maintains an encapsulated story while introducing characters, setting, and a larger story to come. Here we’re provided a town in peril, with Strayer and the real do-gooder, Mala Tenboom, as the only two that can save the day. After destroying a city-stomping titan, Strayer reveals his altruistically selfish mindset (“It’s my favorite kind of problem… somebody else’s,” is a killer line) and leaves the folks he saved to deal with the headache of cleanup. Out of the gate, Strayer is a complex, but likeable character I’m ready to follow through whatever mythical labyrinths Tenboom inevitably leads him.
A lot of what shines through is Jordan’s literary storytelling ability. He uses smart, repetitive wordplay and really kickass dialogue to express the kind of people we’re looking at and how they feel about the situations they’ve gotten themselves into. We see more than just stereotypically manly expressions of violence or damsels in distress. Tenboom’s ceaseless determination to regain a lost world and her repetitive exasperation at a complete lack of help is so human it’s almost funny. And Strayer’s utter apathy that sets in immediately after the bulk of the work is done is reminiscent of hastily completed college essays or anyone who has ever helped you move. In an unbelievable world, Strayer is very believable.
Some of the art doesn’t quite stand up to a lot of today’s titles in terms of polish, but it does have it’s charm, and the action sequences are fluidly expressive. Which is important, because it looks like we’re in for a lot more action. Strayer doesn’t seem to be a book that will change the way you look at life or alter your existence, but it promises to be one hell of an action story that is earnest, honest, and fun.
Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Juan Gedeon
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain.
Letters by Rachel Deering.
7.5 out of 10