The premise of David Barnett, Philip Bond, and Eva de la Cruz’s Eve Stranger #1 is basically “What if Jason Bourne was a girl with blue hair?” There’s also a little bit of Luc Besson’s “tiny girl assassin with one name kicks ass” in its DNA. This first issue follows the amnesiac Eve as she goes forward with her first “mission” that involves traveling to hotels, saving kids from human traffickers, and lots of sad, but cute childhood flashbacks. With occasional digressions to show how Eve’s blood is basically a commodity, Barnett keeps the plotting linear, yet mysterious like Eve Stranger’s past. And it’s all contradicted by his and Liz Prince’s backup story, which seems like a joke/cheeky political satire, but is it?
The real highlight of Eve Stranger #1 is Philip Bond’s artwork complemented by bright pops of blue and yellow from Eva de la Cruz to add intrigue and action to the hum drum of modern living. Bond worked on Deadline in the 1990s with Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl and Gorillaz and collaborated on Grant Morrison classics like Kill Your Boyfriend and Invisibles. His style is a hybrid between the smooth lines of Frank Quitely and Hewlett’s cartoon anarchy. It works well for a slick spy caper with just the hint of attitude as Eve isn’t a monosyllabic Bourne or Terminator and beams with glee when she buys yet another Rolls Royce motorcycle.
Bond has a real gift for crafting cool action moments like when Eve kicks the room service attendant right in the tray after lazing in bed for the previous few pages or the bit of gunplay that goes down later in the issue. But he and David Barnett don’t skimp on the emotion creating a connection between Eve and her real (?) dad that continues throughout the comic. Any time, Eve sees a child, there is a flashback to her childhood with her dad and a group of kids that were probably trained to be assassins too. It’s a quick visual reminder that Eve is a teenager and not just a weapon, and the use of Herge Tintin eyes on the kid characters allows for the reader to identify with them..
And the teenage part especially shines in Barnett and Prince’s backup story to Eve Stranger #1 whose ending leads into the beginning of the issue and gets a wee bit meta with references to other Black Crown stories. It’s a sweet story about Eve as a girl reporter, who because she can only observe events and can’t interfere, has to wait for sexy shirtless fireman to rescue her elderly neighbor’s cat. Prince has a cute, humorous art style with big gestures and faces that lulls you into a false sense of security while Barnett makes the connection to the main story.
Eve Stranger #1’s story is a tad derivative of the action movies that I mentioned in the first paragraph, but David Barnett and Philip Bond seem to be just as concerned with their protagonist’s emotion and quest for autonomy as showing her doing cool things. Plus the art and colors are stylish, distinct, and the opposite of house style, which has been one of the strengths of the Black Crown imprint as a whole.
Story: David Barnett Art: Philip Bond
Colors: Eva de la Cruz Letters: Jane Heir
Backup Art: Liz Prince
Story:7 Art: 9 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read
IDW/Black Crown provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review