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Hadrian’s Wall #1

Hadrian’s Wall #1 | Story: Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel | Artist: Rod Reis | Letters: Troy Peteri | Design: Rich Bloom | Editor: Matt Idelson | Publisher: Image Comics

The team behind C.O.W.L.-Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis-have finally reunited for their long-awaited follow-up Hadrian’s Wall, and the story Higgins has termed an “’80s sci-fi, noir murder mystery” kicked its story off by putting me right back into the pages of C.O.W.L..

Hadrian's Wall #1 | Cover

Before we jump into Hadrian’s Wall, a refresher on C.O.W.L. is warranted here; because it clearly pertains to the creative team behind this new series, but mainly because I just want to talk about C.O.W.L. again. That fantastic series focused on a superhero union in 1960s Chicago; it ended 14 months ago, and I loved every panel of it (so much so that I cosplayed as its character Doppler at last year’s DragonCon in Atlanta). That was such an enjoyable, well-written series, and it introduced me (and most) to the amazing artwork of Rod Reis. If you have not read it, I will once again suggest you do so.

Now, the reason it was legitimately called for to succinctly describe C.O.W.L. again is because, as I mentioned, that series was based in 1960s Chicago. Part of what made it not only a joy to read but also immensely immersive is Rod Reis’ artwork and the beautiful way he captured that location and that time period. In Hadrian’s Wall, even though it’s only been one issue, the case is the same: Rod Reis blew me away, and I did not realize just how much I had missed seeing his work on a regular basis. Here, Reis gets to paint the world of 2085, and boy does he paint the hell out of it.

Seattle 2085

Seattle 2085

I can hear you asking, “2085?” Yes. Rather than me bastardizing the story by attempting to summarize it, I will let you read the official plot synopsis:

In 1985, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union culminated with nuclear detonations in New York City and Moscow. In the decades after, the two super powers found peace through a partnership focused on colonizing space. But now, one hundred years later, a new cold war simmers… between Earth and their biggest colony on Theta.

You read that correctly; it is a Cold War thriller set in 2085, in space-I guess I did kind of bastardize it, anyway, but does that not sound awesome?

With this interesting plot device put into place, we see Reis should have a field day with getting to mix a futuristic setting with an ’80s noir setup. Here is where the writing comes into play. (I know Higgins and Siegel fans are like “Finally!”) The lead character is this guy named Simon Moore. He’s a smartass, he’s funny, and I like him already. Something else he is, though, is a trope. Now that sounds bad because we are all wont to throw the word “trope” around like a pejorative, but tropes are good sometimes; otherwise, they would not have reached trope level. The particular trope Simon is is a fun one: he’s a character living in the future who resents the future and likes retro things. He pays in cash, he sings along to Tom Petty on the radio, and he has a good, old-fashioned painkiller addiction.

Hadrian's Wall #1 | Tom Petty

Yes, our protagonist is a complicated one, but he feels real, which is another quality Hadrian’s Wall shares with C.O.W.L.: the whole thing feels lived in. That’s attributable to Reis’ artwork that evokes memories of the soft and flowing but always under control artwork of Studio Ghibli films, but it’s also a matter of intriguing storytelling from the writing team of Higgins and Siegel.

Reading through this first issue of Hadrian’s Wall, I was reminded of so many other things I have enjoyed over the years: From Alien with its “clean-dirt” aesthetic, to I, Robot and its distrust of technology; Hadrian’s Wall joins the pantheon of stories humanizing our future. No matter if it’s 1965, 1985, or 2085; we will always be human and so will our problems. That’s what it feels like I’m going to get out of Hadrian’s Wall and its murder mystery in space, and I’m all here for it.

Hadrian's Wall #1 | Keep it up!

Also in this issue, they establish their letters column! It is called The Comm, and readers are encouraged to use it. There are no letters in this issue, of course, but Higgins does fill the space with a letter he wrote explaining Hadrian’s Wall, how it came to be, and how it relates to his own life.

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About John Elrod II (234 Articles)
John is currently untitled. This complete lack of definition would drive most into abject bitterness and utter despair, but not someone of John’s virility. No, John is the picture of mental stability and emotional platitude.
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