Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Jakub Rebelka
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
It’s the first night of the blessing, when for one week every seven years the Earth aligns with a magical realm called Ektae. Jordan Molossus is one of the weary firemen who have to deal with the subsequent wave of celebratory fire spells, but he’s also an orphan who seems to have a strangely detailed knowledge of Ektae and its culture. When a mysterious package arrives on the first morning of the blessing, Jordan feels compelled to set out on a journey that will take him across worlds and possibly uncover the mystery of his parentage.
Stories of “dimensional alignment” are ten a penny in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, so if creators are going to head down that well-worn path they’d better have a novel twist up their sleeve. Credit then to Steve Orlando and Jakub Rebelka in Namesake #1, for focusing on the hedonistic minutiae of such a cosmically significant event, before drawing back to take a more panoramic view of proceedings. Of course a reality-breaking ‘alignment’ that happens once every seven years would inspire global partying, and of course this would provide plenty of work for the emergency services, but by casting the main character as a fireman in the midst of all this, Orlando gives us an unconventional route into a story which only later tackles grander themes of questing and discovering oneself.
Jordan’s hot temper and mysterious origins make him a compelling character, even if he’s the only one with any kind of depth in Namesake #1. His burning desire to learn about his past effectively sets in motion a plot which otherwise might have felt forced, and he thus becomes the channel through which we learn more about the strange realm of Ektae. But while seeing the world through his eyes leads to a pleasing lack of exposition in the issue, much of the dialogue and character interaction is pretty thin and underdeveloped, marring an otherwise promising introduction to this four-part series.
Namesake #1 is certainly visually striking, though, with Rebelka’s inventive panel layouts and searing colour palette bringing life equally well to gritty street-party chaos and distant alien citadels. This first issue isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it’s very promising, and not many series can lay claim to that after such a concise introduction.