“This is test two. There are forty of you in here now. This door doesn’t open again until there are twenty.”
A young kid is recruited by a black ops government organization and trained to be a ruthless killing machine for the United States of America. Flash forward 25 years and some of those trainees have now gone rogue and are threatening to expose the agency.
Savage Things #1 is savage. Nothing else describes it better. Writer Justin Jordan and artist Ibrahim Moustafa provide a gripping, bloody tale of black ops government agencies that could fit right at home with Jason Bourne except even Bourne might not be able to handle the violence and brutality within Savage Things #1.
Jordan expertly crafts the script bouncing back and forth between the past and the present. It allows him to build up the characters in the past while focusing on the black ops intrigue and action in the present. But, even when he is jumping back and forth, he is giving us something new every time. All of the scenes are radically different, showing the depth of his storytelling ability.
The dialogue is concise and to the point for the most part. It does bog down a little bit in the middle, but Jordan does warn us about it. The main reason he uses the dialogue is to provide some exposition, although it probably could have been trimmed a little bit, but that might be on Jordan’s editor. Jordan uses the dialogue to do all sorts of things depending on the scene. At one point he builds suspense like no other, at another he shows the savagery of the agency, and still at another he captures the highly intense atmosphere of an active op that goes wrong.
Bringing Jordan’s script to life is artist Ibrahim Moustafa and he absolutely nails it. His page design is pretty basic, but he incorporates frame breaks and makes good use of the widescreen panels to control the pacing of the story. He does a masterful job of guiding us through the panels using visual cues. At one point, he uses the smoke from a cigarette to guide our eyes into the next panel showing us where to read next.
Moustafa especially excels with facial features. He captures the characters’ emotions expertly whether it is smug arrogance, sadistic glee, or pure panic. His action sequences are also compelling. He maintains solid grids, but is able to capture motion with his line work whether it is in the background or being applied directly to a character’s arms or legs.
If there was one thing that could be improved upon related to Moustafa’s artwork, it would have been the sheer number of dead bodies in the hotel. The art didn’t match up to the number in the dialogue. It can leave you with a little bit of a disconnect.
Colorist Jordan Boyd uses a muted palette and it gives the book an almost grim tone which is fitting due to the nature of the story. He uses the background to showcase emotion in some panels whether it is horror or cockiness. He also employs light as a focal point to highlight Moustafa’s facial expressions, really drawing out and exposing what the character is feeling.
Savage Things #1 is a gripping black ops spy fiction that would make Tom Clancy proud. It features fascinating characters, a layered plot, and top-notch artwork. This book just got added to my personal pull list. There’s nothing really like it out there. Go and pick it up.
- Layered dual plot that focuses on the past and present
- Fascinating characters
- Gorgeous artwork
- The body count in the art didn’t match the dialogue