Advance Review: `No/One’ #1 Kills Right Out Of The Gate
by Tom Smithyman
A blockbuster first issue kicks off this limited series. The writers have taken the serial killer trope and turned it on its head – with fantastic results. While it’s still early, with only one issue in, this is a contender for series of the year.
Exposition is a critical ingredient to stories – particularly to ones in which new characters and situations are being introduced. Finding the balance between exposition and action is a common challenge that many writers face at the beginning of their tales.
Some creators, though, choose a different path. To give their stories added realism and more genuine dialogue, a few writers abandon the idea of lengthy explanations and instead challenge readers to come up to speed on their own. David Simon of The Wire fame is a great example. (With its focus on police and the media, the similarities with The Wire don’t end there.) It’s sink or swim for the readers.
That is largely the approach the creative team of No/One takes, at least in this initial chapter of the 10-issue limited series. We quickly see the aftermath of a murder and find out that it’s likely a copycat of Richard Roe. Who? Gradually, we learn that Roe was the name given by a serial killer caught a few months back. Maybe. We’re introduced to copy Ben Kern, and later figure out that his son, Aaron, confessed to being Roe. We’re even subjected to the bizarre Pittsburghese word “yinz,” and are left to ourselves to understand it’s the western Pennsylvania version of ya’ll.
Writers Kyle Higgins and Brian Buccellato do help the reader out, eventually. They place a wiki page, a timeline and a dramatis personae at the end of the book to help explain some of what you just read. But reading this title clearly requires an extra level of attention.
And that is a very good thing, because No/One is a blockbuster. From the opening few pages, the mystery grabs you. And the layers upon layers of strong storytelling keeps the reader engaged until the end of the oversized first issue.
The artwork by Geraldo Borges, with colors by Mark Englert, is consistently strong. They have captured the feel, if not the exact look, of Pittsburgh – a city challenged with more overcast days than sun. It’s the perfect place to set this kind of story.
In a clever bit of life imitating art, there is an extended conversation in a newspaper conference room in which editors and marketers try to convince a reporter to expand her coverage through a podcast. While initially reluctant, the reporter, Julia Page, finally relents. At the back of the issue, readers learn they can subscribe to the real-life monthly podcast, Who Is No/One, which is voiced by Rachel Leigh Cook and Patton Oswalt.
No/One has the makings of a blockbuster series. If it can maintain its momentum, it will be an early contender for a top series of 2023.
No/One #1 will be available for purchase on March 15, 2023.