What is It?: Groom Lake #1. (Written by Chris Ryall, art by Ben Templesmith.)
Timing: First of the series.
Review: Okay, impressed.
Along with Locke and Key and Everybody's Dead, Chris Ryall's Groom Lake is going to be one of those titles that prove that IDW Publishing isn't just the best at media tie-ins... they're also among the best at original titles. For a first issue that seems, for the most part, to be setting up the greatness to come, there were so many stand-out moments and great bits of dialogue that it felt more like the twentieth issue of the book. Ryall knows exactly what he wants to happen, where he wants to happen, and goddammit, he's going to have fun doing it. The issue is great to read because you can tell that Ryall is having a blast while writing it. I mean, with lines like this: "Your dad? Yeah, I see, um... you've got his eyes. [...] They're, uh, stuck on your shoulder, let me get those off you"; how could you not love it?
He's been an editor of comics for a long time, and the way he tinkers with the format really shows how deeply he knows the medium. His wacky story is made even wackier by little captions that introduce each character, not showing us their internal thoughts but giving a brief description of them for the reader alone. My favorite bit was the dog's ("Scruffs. 4, in dog years. Good boy.") It's so weird, sick in all the right ways, and puts so much originality into the old story of alien conspiracies that you would think Ryall invented the idea himself.
If you're going to add one new title to your Must Buy List for 2009, this is it. Buffy and Angel fans will absolutely love it and, judging by how great this first issue was, anyone who subscribes is in for a strange, twisted, great ride.
Art: Ben Templesmith at his very very best. I was skeptical during 30 Days of Night, he totally won me over with Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse Volume One, I joined the Temple of Ben Templesmith Followers for the second volume, and bowed to my knees--for worship, you sickos, get your mind out of the gutter--for Welcome to Hoxford. Well, his art in Groom Lake is by far the best he's ever done. It's just the right balance of his trademark creepiness, slightly lightened by the humor of the story. With skill and control that only men as prolific as Templesmith have, he manages to add layers to Ryall's characters by slightly distorting them, showing what characters are hardened, which are gross, and which are inappropriately overjoyed by the world around them. Wonderful. Just wonderful.