Let me begin by informing you that The Ether #1, crafted by Matt Garvey and inked to life by the ever-talented Dizevez, is a stunning piece of literature to look at. A detective-noir comic by nature, it fully utilises a soft yet striking colour palette to create a world that feels equally as inviting as it does grimy. Full credit must go to Dizevez for such a feat, whose use of this complicated art structure can be noted in some of her previous works, which can be found on her main site. While beautiful in of itself, does much lie beneath the aesthetic of this comic? The short answer is yes, there is plenty to chew on.
The main plot hook of this initial issue is classic comic fodder, with classic ne’er-do-wells being pursued by the Slenderman-esque Ether, referred to as Mr Ether by some, who looks equally imposing and horrifying in a sharp suit and a face obscured by a mask detailing the intricacies on London.
It may sound ridiculous, but this achieves a level of monstrous dehumanisation for the character, something reflected in both the disgusted attitude of the police force and in the fearful eyes of low-level goons. Mr Ether uses rather violent means to achieve his ends, something which grants him a certain realism and moral ambiguity. Imagine Frank Miller‘s take on the Batman and you’re pretty much there. This is where both Garvey and Dizevez work beautifully together, with the former drawing us into the mindset of this vigilante, and the latter segregating him from us by giving his thoughts a sharp and cruel font.
Garvey is a master of the old ‘rug pull’, something which he pulls off repeatedly throughout this first chapter. But it does not feel cheap or unnecessary. Quite the contrary. Each twist and development feels as natural as breathing, and fitting and organic to the character of Ether. Sure, there are a couple of classic tropes that are used but they are purposeful, and with far more reason to them than comics of days past. The story moves along and, as it slowly unfolds, you feel your appreciation of this character and their motivation become more concrete. In a few short panels, Garvey fleshes out his protagonist to a refreshing degree and it cannot help but impress.
Finally, as the story winds down, we are treated to a more human side to the mysterious vigilante. Without giving too much away, this is a fantastic few panels that well and truly cement the character of Mr Ether, as well as his drive and motivations. And just as you think you’ve finally got a handle on this bright, neon world and its dealings, a curve-ball of a finale leaves us scratching our heads in an abrupt confusion, but nonetheless thrilled at the overall narrative.
To wrap this up, The Ether #1# is a brilliant piece of fiction, and one that I would recommend in its entirety. Save one stumble towards the end, it delivers everything that an origin issue should: Excellent pacing, strong and believable dialogue, and multifaceted characters. One to keep your eye on, if this first issue is anything to go by. Well done, Garvey and Dizevez.
Have you read The Ether? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet! If I’ve managed to sway you, you can purchase many of Garvey’s current and previous works here.