REVIEW: ‘Test,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Test #1 is published by Vault Comics, written by Christopher Sebela (I Lived in a Clown Motel), with art by Jen Hickman, colors by Harry Saxson, and letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. This issue follows Aleph Null who is on the run from their old life. Aleph is an orphan, a human guinea pig undergoing medical tests for cash, a bodyhacker, a hardcore future junkie, and a corporate asset. But now, even though she signed away all her rights, she is determined to find a mythical, Midwestern town named Laurelwood because rumor has it, they’re test-marketing the future with tech that can’t possibly exist yet, and won’t for decades.

Having escaped the mysterious facilities where they were tested, Aleph believes Larelwood is the key to getting fixed. While it is still unclear in this issue what all the corporation did to their “asset,” it is clear that Aleph has some type of cybernetic augmentations. While speaking to her phone, named Mary, in a grocery store about her concerns of having found Larelwood and being on the run, Aleph causes the lights in the store to break.

A lot about the story, what exactly Aleph is, and the lab they escaped from is unclear. There are a lot of moments in Test #1 that are downright hard to follow. The issue is also extremely wordy and while the font choice for the lettering is unique, it can also be a tad hard to read.

That being said, Test #1 still has a lot of amazing elements within it, including Aleph being non-binary. In the issue and in the marketing description, Aleph clearly uses the pronouns they/them. Additionally, in the repo reports that occasionally take up panels, Aleph’s gender is marked as “various given.” Non-binary characters are fairly rare in comics so seeing more representation is always good. Not to mention, at least within this issue, Aleph’s gender is not a defining factor of the plot. As we see more representation of gender and sexuality, it is important those aspects of a character don’t become the character’s only defining feature, which unfortunately has been the case in previous forms of media.

Hickman’s art is another spectacular element within Test #1. The issue’s art is extremely unique and fits the sci-fi theme of the book. Aleph’s design is extremely cool. Realistic and interesting character designs that are fashionable can easily make a comic stand out from the rest. Additionally, the art brings cohesion to an otherwise disjointed plot. Not a lot has been revealed yet so every visual clue given to readers is much appreciated.

Similarly, Otsmane-Elhaou created a lot of unique moments with his lettering choices. Aleph’s thoughts interrupt people speaking to them and the way it is portrayed through lettering is well done. Saxson’s panel coloring, as it is bathed in blue hues, and lettering of the repo reports help those pages stand out from the rest and establish the overall tone. The repo reports are ominous and the visual cues given help discern that.

Overall, Test #1 is a unique book but is a somewhat disjointed start to an already confusing narrative. However, my hope is the next issue clears up and begins to connect a lot of the threads already laid out for readers. Fans of sci-fi will enjoy this book and it is worth picking up for the art alone.

Test #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Test #1
4

TL;DR

Overall, Test #1 is a unique book but is a somewhat disjointed start to an already confusing narrative. However, my hope is the next issue clears up and begins to connect a lot of the threads already laid out for readers. Fans of sci-fi will enjoy this book and it is worth picking up for the art alone.