RunLoveKill is a mesmerising read with some brilliantly orchestrated panel design and transitions unfortunately it is marred by one misstep which literally covers the comic.
There are always discussions about whether or not covers should represent the interior narrative but the cover for issue one of RunLoveKill gives the reader a completely wrong impression of the contents. The flat grey, computer constructed figure looks more like a model for a Tod McFarlane figure than an enticement for a new sci-fi comic. It doesn’t represent the artwork or the narrative of the comic’s contents. It isn’t a bad illustration, no-body would look at it in disgust, the problem is that it doesn’t jump off the shelf and grab you in a way that covers need to in today’s market place. First impressions do count and the unfortunate truth is people still judge a book by its cover when it comes to picking up new reads.
And the fact that the cover may put people off is a crime because between the covers, on each page of the comic itself, there is an exceptional and surprisingly engaging story. It has the look and feel of late 1990’s sci-fi films such as Strange Days or the seminal German ‘alternate universes’ movie Run Lola Run. It has a hint of Manga about it but also very European in style. Basically, it has a crisp and fresh look while portraying a murky, Sci-Fi world akin to Blade Runner.
The story is fairly simple to start with but there are depths waiting to be explored and it’s a shame that only four issues were produced. Set in the future, Rain is looking to leave the city before the completion of the Wall. She has a feeling that fills her with dread, an inclination that everything is going to change for the worse so she decides to get out before it’s too late. Unfortunately, an act of kindness sets in motion a series of events which block her exit. She becomes trapped and hunted in a fast paced, over bright world.
RunLoveKill is a comic about consequences and that first ill-conceived but well-meaning act starts the unravelling of Rain’s plans but there is something else going on beneath it all. A flashback/flashforward sequence contrasts scenes of Rain playing a cello and running from armoured police officials, all of which is over layered with the rhythmic tick tick of a metronome. Its monotonous swing seems to mock the future Rain as her life begins to spiral out of control. Her life begins to lose timing and rhythm while the metronome continues to tick tick evenly and clearly. From the very beginning of issue one there is the feeling that her time is running out.
The artwork is fluid and exaggerated which matches the musical undertones of the narrative. It’s impressively cinematic which is a complete contrast to the stiff, structured image on the cover. Instead of a plastic figure, the interior art is more reminiscent of Gabrial Ba’s emotional work in such titles as Daytripper. It is a fusion of Expressionism and Impressionism pasted onto a Catherine Bigelow social commentary.
The script has an urgency to it. This is depicted as each scene seems to intensify and desperation begins to fuel Rain’s actions. Then a clever moment of respite gives the reader a moment to breath easily before Jon Tsuei hits you with a betrayal of our heroine, throwing everything back up in the air.
The pacing is handled beautifully by Jon Tsuei, constantly moving the story and the characters forward, almost as if he’s matching the narration to the even tick tick of the metronome.
The first issue makes a statement of intent for the series. It sets up the cast and setting so as a reader you know who you’ll be following through the series. But it does so much more by setting the tone and making such an important point about the relentless timing. The tick tock of the clock plays throughout giving the reader the impression of a clock counting down, of time running out, of the heroine edging ever nearer to her end. The creators want the reader to know that it is only a matter of time before the Wall is complete and then there is no escape.
The interior of this comic takes hold of the reader and sweeps them up in the high paced, desperate life of Rain. The pacing keeps you moving in the right direction, although you may want to stop to look at the sights, the urgency of the situation makes this impossible most of the time. It is an engaging comic which is under-represented by the cover.