ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Newburn,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Newburn #1

A man is dead. Another was seen fleeing the scene of what appears to be a drug deal gone bad. But with some of the participants tied to some of New York City’s most prominent crime families, Private Investigator Easton Newburn is called in to see if he can puzzle out what happened. Newburn #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, with art by Jacob Phillips.

Efficiency. It can be a critical component of comic book storytelling. Being able to work an entire story into the standard 24-page comic book format can be a tricky proposition. Delivering all the steps to get the reader from point A to point B in a seamless way is a trick many have failed. Add on the need to introduce your readers to your brand new protagonist and one would expect something to get lost in all those panels. Luckily for Newburn #1, Zdarsky and Phillips can proficiently tell their tale and get the reader acquainted with one Easton Newburn through excellent and precise storytelling.

The biggest thing that saves this book’s story is Zdarsky’s decision to show, rather than tell the reader about Newburn. By delivering as much about the character through actions instead of lengthy background explanations, Zdarsky can focus the story’s time on the case set before its titular character.

The case Newburn #1 brings to its readers serves as an excellent introductory tale. It is a multilayered affair that more than convinces readers that Newburn is excellent at what he does while not being so complex as to leave the reader wondering how future tales will manage to impress without crossing the line into ridiculousness. While the story shows off Newburn’s impressive talents for both perception and deduction, there is one critical element Zdarsky introduces to the character that many might not have included. Some elements of the case initially slip by him.

In a medium where the most iconic example of an investigator is a man notorious for somehow picking up on everything, Zdarsky’s willingness to allow Newburn to be great at his job, but not to the point of feeling presentient makes the character’s success feel all the more impressive since failure is an actual possibility.

If Newburn #1 has a weakness, it is in the personality of the cast that surrounds Newburn in this book. Everyone that graces the pages of this story feels relatively basic. Now, given everything this book manages to pack into a first issue, a lack of character fleshing out can probably be forgiven for now. Hopefully, future issues will build upon the foundations this story lays out.

The art throughout the book captures the essence of the gritty detective story the narrative seeks to deliver. Phillips gives Newburn a great sense of presence. The character always feels like he is the most prominent character in the scene. The calm, cool, confidence that is written into the character is brought wonderfully to the book’s visuals with Phillips’s work.

When all is said and done, Newburn #1 delivers a wonderful introduction to its world. Newburn seems like an interesting character, and the creative team’s delivery of him here makes me confident that there is a lot more they can accomplish with this hard-boiled detective.

Newburn #1 is available November 3rd wherever comics are sold.


Newburn #1
4

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Newburn #1 delivers a wonderful introduction to its world. Newburn seems like an interesting character, and the creative team’s delivery of him here makes me confident that there is a lot more they can accomplish with this hard-boiled detective.