Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Trust Fall’ #1, out June 12 from AfterShock Comics.
THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘TRUST FALL’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
by Brendan Hodgdon. Loyalty can be a double-edged sword. It can often provide security and comfort and a sense of purpose but it can also be exploited and weaponized, and the sense of trust placed at the center of one’s loyalty only goes as far as it’s reciprocated. And as painful as it is to consider, just being a member of a family does not automatically earn the trust and loyalty that it should. These are the brutal truths lying at the core of the stylish and energetic Trust Fall as brought to you by Christopher Sebela, Chris Visions and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and they guide many of the creative choices made in this debut chapter.
The world of Trust Fall is a very internal one, framed almost exclusively from the perspective of our heroine, Ash. It’s a magical-realist criminal underworld, one with its own lingo and worldview that exists wholly opposed to our own, where people with magical abilities known as “quirks” are engaged in a shadow war with human society while trying to move up their own particular cultural ladder. It’s clear how vicious Ash’s world is and how misguided her sense of reality has been, yet we never lose sight of who Ash is in relation to all of that. That clarity is thanks to Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters, which present us with two dueling sets of captions that emphasize the competing voices in Ash’s head.
One set of captions offers definitions of this underworld’s dogmatic terminology in clean, precise letters and sharp colors, while the other set—more scratchy, personal, and set against plain white—provides us access to Ash’s inner monologue. This approach differentiates between Ash and her world and makes it clear how her curiosity and desire are pulling her away from the narrative she’s been given since birth. Ash is aware that her value to her family comes from her particular quirk, and yet spends more time reviewing the defining terms of her family than she does her magic. It suggests a longing to better understand her family and her place in it, even as she risks punishment to explore the forbidden world of regular people.
While the lettering helps to define Ash’s inner self, she’s being carried through classic crime family/caper tropes that Sebela uses to great effect. Ash’s family is full of brutal cutthroats, all eager to establish their dominion over their peculiar realm, and in this issue they set out to complete a job to ensure their status. The backstabbing and macho posturing that ensues is classic crime story material, but it is given an added impact by the abusive particulars we come to learn about Ash’s life. The stakes here are intensely sad, as it becomes clear through their treatment of Ash that the family’s ambition and saber-rattling are even uglier than they first appear. This is further emphasized by Visions’ outsized, exaggerated character designs, which render Ash’s family in brilliantly obnoxious excess.
Visions also does some cool things with panel layouts and color, as the recurring streaks of color that represent light, magic and motion recall Van Gogh’s Starry Night among others, giving everything a surreal, impressionistic kineticism. And the choice of colors themselves—lots of subdued neon and pastel shades—gives the book a feeling of perpetual twilight that suits the story’s melancholic tone. While the first page and last couple of pages are a bit hard to follow as they’re laid out, the art never stops being gorgeous, and often maintains a great sense of momentum.
Family conflicts over loyalty and trust are a perpetual literary concern because they are a perpetual human concern. Most people at some point have a reckoning with the worldview their parents stuck them with, or with their family’s disregard or obliviousness to their well-being. This familiar emotional wound powers Trust Fall, and along with clever words and gorgeous images, makes this book a solid success.
Written by Christopher Sebela.
Art by Chris Visions.
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
8 out of 10
‘Trust Fall’ #1 hits stores June 12.
Check out this 3-page unlettered preview of ‘Trust Fall’ #1, courtesy of AfterShock Comics!
10-copy Incentive Variant by Claire Roe.