Welcome to Mars. It’s 2770, the weather’s just fine, and humanity has settled in nicely.
But, with The Weatherman, a new sci-fi thriller from Jody Leheup and Nathan Fox, it’s soon pretty obvious that mankind’s exploration of the stars and colonisation of our nearest neighbour wasn’t something borne of the right stuff, wasn’t something with the same primal desire to explore beyond the thin atmosphere keeping us on Earth. Instead, it’s humanity’s final destination, and mankind are here through necessity, refugees from their own planet.
It’s not spelt out definitively, but seeing dear old Mrs. Morgan taken to a huge gathering of mourners in the shadow of a darkened model of Earth makes it pretty clear. Something happened to Earth, and that something was bad.
Within those first few pages, we’re magnificently embedded in the tale of The Weatherman, with Leheup and Fox filling their pages with subtle tech details. It’s a world of sadness, where humanity has settled into a routine, made Mars as close to home as they remember.
It’s a fascinating few pages of intro, scene-setting, world-building done right.
Next up, Nathan Bright, a weatherman on Mars TV… “gettin’ clever with the weather”, from bed to camera with seconds to spare. Slacker, comedian, in a huge apartment, shared with his beloved doggie companion Sadie. Again, the background to his introduction is full of little moments, his apartment as close to Earth as possible, full of those same nick-knacks. And in the background, the radio blaring out, full of more world-building details; telling us of hyper-travel congestion on route to the Daytona Pleasure Asteroid and prejudice against psychics.
When he hits the studio, all I can see is Steve Martin in the much under-rated LA Story. The same zany weather guy, filling the forecast with gags and stupidity. After all, as Bill Hicks once said about LA: “They don’t have f-ing weather there, y’know. Hot and sunny every day… And they love it. “Isn’t it great? Every day – hot and sunny!” …”What are you, a f-ing lizard?”
Well, yep, that would be pretty much the same here on Mars. Hot and sunny, every day. So what the hell do you do as a weather guy? You become the zany guy.
But, even here, LeHeup gives us a nudge, reminds us that living on Mars is something that reminds people what they’ve lost, who they’ve lost…
[**Warning! Mild spoilers for The Weatherman #1 below!!]
Ok then, enough backstory, enough world building. No matter how well it’s done (and it is), no matter how fascinating it is to see (and it is), there’s a tale Leheup and Fox want to tell you, and it’s a doozy.
Now, once we get the bad guys circling, with mentions of someone in charge called “the Pearl”, a bad ass looking cowboy/hunter type called Marshal, it’s not too hard to guess where this one’s going, but hey, enjoy how we get there; it’s a fun ride for the second half of the comic for sure.
Nathan (the weather man…or more correctly, THE Weatherman) heads to a bar, where the barmaid he’s pursuing just happens to be the redhead we saw at the memorial to the dead. Pestering or persistence works it seems, with Amanda agreeing to a date.
And oh boy, you can really see everything going wrong can’t you?
Something like this…
Everything’s lined up, Amanda’s packing heat, and the bad guys are coming. I’m going to say no more at this stage about the why or who here, but I think you can definitely see it coming. But still, that last line on the final page…whoah boy, it’s a doozy.
Before we go, a word about Nathan Fox’s art on The Weatherman. It is superb. Stunning stuff. Doesn’t matter whether he’s doing those big world-building pages, subtle character stuff, talking heads… there’s so much going on across his pages to take in. And his style just looks incredible. There’s that kinetic flow and slightly abstracted style reminiscent of Paul Pope at his best here.
I’m going to end with a couple of his pages later on in the comic, when the action really kicks off. The staging is just perfect, and when it all does kick off, when the tension Fox has built up explodes, it’s just a beautiful thing to see:
And if you loved that page, you’re going to adore this next one. Just three panels, three fixed points across less than a second in terms of action time, but every single image has so much going on, from the first panel…
Amanda throwing herself across the floor, a hail of bullets to avoid, blades to pick up as she goes. Launching herself into the air in the second panel, as the bad guy swings and misses…
All leading to this final panel, where the abstraction is at its best, where Fox deliberately switches the perspective, moves the camera angle, so we’re looking at everything happening in ultra-slo-mo. Amanda going over the bad guy, legs flicking, body flipping, all to get the right position for the kill move…
The Weatherman is full of beautiful images from Fox, but there’s something incredibly special about these pages when the action explodes off the page in some amazing ways.
It’s another must buy from Image. Definitely, definitely one to go alongside recent Image titles Analog, Skyward, and Isola as spectacular first issues. Fingers crossed that The Weatherman keeps the quality up just as those other three titles have. It’s a fine 2018 for Image, if you ask me.
The Weatherman Issue 1 is released 13th June. Published by Image Comics, written by Jody Leheup, art by Nathan Fox, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Steve Wands. Cover by Nathan Fox, variant covers: Marcos Martin, Matteo Scalera with Matt Wilson, Dan Panosian, Nathan Fox, Andrew Robinson.
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