“Are you gonna let me shoot or are we gonna have a problem?”
Q-Ball #1 by Mike Baron and Barry McClain Jr. tells the story of Curtis Ball, a warehouse manager in Manila who has a passion for martial arts. Unfortunately, Curtis Ball finds himself wrapped up in an international conspiracy with a Chinese general hunting down a human rights activist.
The beginning of the issue does a very good job introducing us to Curtis Ball. We get to know a little bit about who he is, what he cares about, and his overall character. Baron’s dialogue combined with McClain’s art does a great job of humanizing Curtis. I really enjoyed one page where he reminisces about his family and what he misses about the United States, but while he is remembering he falls asleep. Who hasn’t done that?
After giving us a feel of who Curtis is, Baron and McClain introduce the conspiracy and the primary antagonist. You know he’s a bad guy right off the bat and are already extremely wary of him.
While the characters are well-fleshed out for a first issue, there are some issues with a few of the plot devices. It can be confusing at points. For example, the main villain visits Curtis’ warehouse to pick up a package. This scene takes place in the warehouse, but we never see the package until the second page. And it’s unclear the package that we do see is is the package they were previously talking about. What makes it confusing is McLain and Baron insert a scene outside of the warehouse before going back to the warehouse and the package. The dialogue surrounding the package could have also been a little sharper to make it clear this is the same package they were previously talking about.
This type of confusion happens a couple of other times throughout the story. Another example is how Curtis meets up with the Chinese human rights activist. A couple lines of dialogue could have made these scenes much clearer.
While there are a few confusing scenes, Barry McClain’s action sequences are fantastic. Curtis Ball can dish out some punishment. And his primary weapons, the two pieces of a pool stick, make him a formidable enemy. There some unique panels depicting the action as well. I really enjoyed one where the Chinese human rights activist known as Red Crane does a flying, leap attack at a thug attacking her. McClain breaks down each motion she takes to perform the movie in a single horizontal panel before giving us a big rectangle panel showing the end result. It’s perfect build-up with a great payoff.
Not only are the action sequences gripping, but there’s also a number of cases of situational humor. You can’t help but chuckle!
Colorist Charlie Hogg does a very good job. I love his use of purples and blues showcasing Curtis’ relaxed and memorable emotional state. Then in the first high action series he uses a red palette to highlight the tension and the risk involved. It heightens McClain’s pencils and increases the drama.
While Hogg’s colors do a great job of adding to the story, his letters are a different story. The font he uses never changes for any of the characters. And it’s not the most eye-pleasing font. It can make it an unnecessary challenge to read at points.
Q-Ball #1 is exciting with high-flying action sequences set over top of an international conspiracy. It’s James Bond with martial arts. The story overall is a lot of fun with interesting, meaningful characters who already have a number of layers to them. There are some issues with key plot points that could use a little better clarification and the font could be improved. But overall, Q-Ball #1 is a highly enjoyable comic! I recommend it.
- Well-written and interesting characters
- Fantastic high-flying action sequences
- An intriguing James Bond-esque story
- Some confusing plot points
- Font used can be distracting and sometimes difficult to read