Who is Jake Ellis? #1
The most attractive thing about Who is Jake Ellis? is the command of storytelling on display. The title poses a question, and is aided by a front cover design portraying two figures looking like poster boys from some Hollywood noir. They probably could be played by two A-list actors. The streamlined art by Tonci Zonjic ably conveys their contrasting personalities: the one colored in red is ruggedly handsome and clearly a man of action, while the brooding figure dressed in black is shaded in grays and draped in shadows. The reader is immediately thrown into the action in a very clever opening. The handsome figure, whose name is Jon Moore, is staging the kind of daring escape from unscrupulous characters worthy of any action movie hero. But curiously enough, he seems to be talking to himself rather than paying attention to what's going on around him. This scene is then repeated, almost verbatim. But this time the shadowy figure is hovering over Jon and relaying instructions, which he responds to and unquestioningly follows. Jon's nonsensical words suddenly make a lot more sense. No one can see or hear him except Jon, and he's the mysterious Jake Ellis the title is referring to.
This introduction is an effective way to hook the reader, and it summarizes Jake and Jon's relationship. For unknown reasons, Jake is protective of Jon, while Jon is dependent on Jake as a defensive measure. Jake is not a simple hallucination because he can see things that aren't in Jon's direct line of sight. He also seems to posses limited precognitive abilities since he can sense impending danger. They don't interact like friends, but their dialogue suggests that they've had enough time to grow accustomed to one another, as Jon doesn't seem to mind Jake's constant presence, regardless of the circumstances. Jake is probably immaterial, since he seems unaffected by the external environment, and is able to keep up with Jon without exhibiting any significant physical exertion.
That last part is pertinent because Jon is constantly on the run. After the opening, which takes place in Spain, Jon has made his way to France. It isn't long before he's involved in another cat and mouse chase. One moment he's seducing a waitress, and the next he's jumping off roofs, dashing into Strasbourg Cathedral, and smashing through boutique store windows. At first he thinks it's the same people from Spain. But it soon becomes apparent from the dialogue between the two that Jon has more than one dangerous foe to contend with.
While Jake is the most interesting enigma, writer Nathan Edminson provides little background about Jon himself. The propulsive action, quick shifts between exotic European locations, combined with the careful parcelling of information, produce an inviting enough riddle to hold the reader's attention. Edminson and Zonjic certainly make for a very compelling creative team who seem to be in synch with one another. It'll be interesting to see whether the payoff at the end will live up to the promise of its setup.