Very few new comics of 2014 struck me as hard as Copperhead did. The sci-fi western is an expertly crafted comic book story that is unlike anything else, and this title firmly secured Jay Faerber as a writer that deserves to have any new title he releases be given at least a chance. And so it was his latest release, a 4 book mini-series called Graveyard Shift. I had absolutely no idea of the content or context of this book when I picked it, which is quite a refreshing change of pace. By the end of this first ish, however, Faerber had done even more to cement his status as a must-read writer. What seemingly begins as a supernatural cop-drama, quickly twists into what appears to be an action-filled revenge tale, then proceeds to turn entirely off the rails into what can only be described as a WTF vampire story. And it was wicked fun from the first page to the last panel.
Writer Jay Faerber does a great job with the pacing in this issue, but his character dialogue is fresh yet vividly descriptive. We get integral background info on every character in just a few short pages, with none of that dialogue seeming out of place or forced into a story planned for only four issues. I’ve read a lot of Faerber’s stuff, and he builds characters over time exceedingly well in his ongoing titles, but his expertise in doing so with limited panel space is on full display here. Artist Fran Bueno has a wonderful style, a unique mind for design, and hits every nail on the head throughout. Character emotions are spot on, action scenes are wonderfully rendered, but it’s his full and rich panel work that stands out. Every panel is full of beautiful art, and Bueno doesn’t waste an inch.
While everything in this first issue of Graveyard Shift is stellar, the end left me leaning toward this book being less of a cop-drama or supernatural action story, and more of a supernatural Romeo/Juliet sort of story. There’s certainly a love aspect to the book; as suggested by the cover and overarching tones of this ish; but there’s a lot more to Graveyard Shift than readers will get at the turn of issue #1s last page, and the mystery, while quite appealing, leaves me wondering “where the hell do we go from here?”. None of this was enough, however, to ruin this single, debut issue.
Jay Faerber has done it again! One of my favorite writers of 2014 is heading into the New Year at full speed, and Graveyard Shift #1 is prime example of this. The twists and turns of this issue oblige the pacing quite well, but leave readers to wonder if any of that really matters by the end. Of course, none of this matters at all as Graveyard Shift #1 stands on its own as an enjoyable, highly entertaining comic, beautifully drawn by Fran Bueno.