**UPDATE** Raygun is no longer a part of Alterna’s lineup due to contract issues.
Editor’s Note: I was provided a review copy of Raygun by Alterna Comics. Also there are some spoilers of issue #1 below.
Raygun tells the tale of Matthew, a young boy who is sent to live with his father, and accidentally discovers a mysterious weapon sent to the future by Nikola Tesla. Matthew is a troubled boy who grew up with a single mother who we find out may be a prostitute and drug addict. He grew up around criminals, bikers and addicts who taught him to fight and the experience causes him trouble after he travels to live with his father. For reasons we don’t exactly know his mother sends him off to live with his reclusive dad, who appears to be an inventor, and perhaps not entirely firing on all cylinders. He lives in a small house, with a workshop in a barn, all surrounded by the walls of a junkyard and defended by miniature robots.
Matthew does make a friend at his new school, but also a number of enemies. He gets into a fight on his first day, but on the second day the class takes a field trip to a museum featuring a Tesla exhibit. At the museum the bullies that Matthew has already tangled with gang up on him and lock him in a closet. Being new, and not on the class roster, he is forgotten and left, only to finally escape into the main part of the exhibit after it is closed. That is where he touches a device, as it begins to glow, and finds the futuristic ray gun from the past. As kids do, Matthew plays around with the weapon, eventually blowing a hole in the wall of the museum and running off.
Whether it was the use of the weapon, or the device’s arrival in the present, something triggers a long-forgotten warning system at the White House where a secret room opens up and a projection of Thomas Edison warns the president that a weapon, which could destroy the world, has once again been released. The president is charged with stopping whoever has it, by any means necessary.
Gregory Schoen comes out swinging with a great story that should appeal to just about anyone, especially young readers who themselves may be outsiders or have been bullied. Right away we sympathize with Matthew and his situation. I could see a little of my childhood in him, at least the school part, having been a bit of an outsider myself and the new kid due to several moves. Gregory does a great job of capturing the feeling of going to a strange school, and being that kid that everyone stares at as the teacher introduces you to the class.
The mystery woven in the first issue is compelling, and I will be adding this to my own pull list to read more. I want to know what Tesla was doing, and how he sent the device forward in time. I want to know about Matthew’s mother, and hope that somehow she turns things around. What is his father building in that barn, and it cannot be a coincidence that he’s an inventor himself. What does the ray gun do, and how will the government respond to this message from the past? So many questions build a great foundation for this world and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Alonso Molina’s pencils in this book are fantastic. Black and white throughout, the art doesn’t need color to stand out. Molina’s style is unique from anything I’ve been reading, with a distinctive look that goes well with the story. He does a great job of balancing detail and minimalist design, which I kind of like in a heavily story-driven book. The art has to be there, and it needs to be good, but when there’s too much going on in a panel it becomes more about flipping through the pages to see it all than about reading it. Alonso nails it with this book I think, and I hope we continue to see him on the project going forward.
Without color the inks have to be even better, and Paulo Rivas doesn’t disappoint. The balance of black and white is distinct and striking throughout the issue. We get a good sense of the lighting, whether inside or out so there’s no need for colors to show the sun’s glow or lack thereof.
All together this is a great book that I read through too quickly. I want more and I think you will too. You can get your copy from Comixology for $2.99 and it’s currently in its 4th issue. Give it a look, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.