In No. 1 With A Bullet #3, writer Jacob Semahn, artist Jorge Corona, and colorist Jen Hickman go full David Fincher while still spending plenty of time showing Nash Huang coming to grips with the public’s reaction to a leaked video (Via high tech contact lenses.) of her having sex with her old boss Jad Davies. She also has a stalker who likes to leave Bible verses in blood in her apartment, and the first bits of the comic are Nash talking to a fairly friendly and empathetic police officer. The midway point of this series starts as a lot of (good) unpacking and fallout, but then Semahn, Corona, and Hickman slam down on the gas with an adrenaline packed sequence that seems to all be in the protagonist’s head, but actually has very real consequences. Because “it was all a dream” is such a cop out.
Corona’s layouts in the first half of No. 1 With A Bullet #3 are fairly traditional with nine panel grids and talking TV heads that wouldn’t be out of place with some of the big comic book hits of 1986. But his figures are quirky and idosyncratic as ever. As exhibited by books like Mister Miracle this past year, there’s nothing wrong with a nine panel grid if it’s used in a creative way to add layers to a story instead of having talking head dialogue. For the most part, Corona and Hickman nail this part like when Jad, who is a little apologetic after losing his big shot media job, is maybe a little too “sorry” on the phone with his sleazy fixer/PR buddy Maddox. Corona never shows Maddox; he is the man behind the curtain, and instead focuses on a freaking out Jad or the news cameras slowing wheeling up to his house. To pick a very contemporary example, he is like YouTuber Logan Paul and is backpedaling and freaking out not because he understands that he has violated a woman’s privacy and sexually assaulted her via technology, but because he got caught and has less chances at getting money and power. Hickman chooses grey for most of these panels that fits perfectly with his glum mood and the fact that Maddox is using “grey areas” to protect his client.
However, No. 1 With A Bullet #3 isn’t all media reactions and excellent commentary about how men who “perform” in leaked sex videos are treated like studs or at least are allowed a second chance while women are slut shamed. This second theme does give the book real world relevance, including sobering commentary from the victim of the Black Dahlia Murders about how people would rather have a lurid tabloid story than think about victims as people. This sequence happens in a semi horror/semi hallucination/not-so-guided tour of the Museum of Death, which Nash’s hemorrhaging artist friend thinks would be a great way to get her to relax. When they’re in the museum, all bets and Jorge Corona grid compositions are off and replaced with tilting and moving panels plus plenty of negative space. There’s the usual harbingers of the macabre, like skeletons and clowns, coupled with negative social media comments about Nash that make her feel trapped in a scary space. It’s a reminder of that classic horror saying that humans, especially powerful, unapologetic men, are the real monsters.
Even though the events of the story take a much needed turn for the traditional horror, Jacob Semahn, Jorge Corona, and Jen Hickman continue to find No. 1 with a Bullet #3’s scariest and most insightful moments in a slightly heightened version of the real world.
Story: Jacob Semahn Art: Jorge Corona Colors: Jen Hickman
Story: 7.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.