Kyle Rogers writes for Bleeding Cool
Last year’s “Who Is Jake Ellis?” was, for my money, one of the best comics published in 2011. It combined deft & confident writing, excellent artwork, a strong high-concept hook and well-written action that always served the story – and most importantly, it actually delivered good answers to the questions it raised. Even better, though, it managed to find that sweet spot of both offering a conclusion to the story without closing off any opportunities for future stories.
You’ve probably already guessed that I was rather happy to find out that there was a sequel on the way. And better yet, the first issue has delivered so far, in exactly the ways I’d expect.
For those of you who didn’t read Who Is Jake Ellis, here’s a brief spoiler-free blurb – John Moore is a man on the run from shady operatives belonging to an unspecified US security agency. He’s aided by Jake Ellis, a shady figure visible only to John, who provides him with advice and reconnaissance information. John has to evade the agents pursuing him while trying to find out why they’re chasing him and why only he can see Jake Ellis.
Issue #1 of Where Is Jake Ellis starts with a 2-page recap of the previous miniseries (which is very sparse, giving you only the barest-bones version of what you need to know for the story) and then takes us a month or two forward from its conclusion. John is once again in hiding undercover, while Jake is now being held by US government agents in a medical facility. Neither of them is safe, and as their pursuers attack, they’re forced to make a run for it.
The writing, artwork and storytelling in Where Is Jake Ellis are all every bit as strong as they were in the first miniseries. The various action segments are perfectly realized – fast-paced, viscerally exciting but never confused, always very straightforward to follow and understand. The highlight of the series so far is the nightclub sequence in the third issue (I think) of Who Is Jake Ellis, which showcased a masterful use of colour, but while this issue doesn’t quite hit those heights, every page is nonetheless a deft accomplishment in visual storytelling. It’s clear to me that creators Nathan Edmonson and Tonci Zonjic are a well-suited team and enjoy working together.
In terms of plot and character developments, the events of this issue suggest that this miniseries will focus a bit more on Jake Ellis as a character in his own right. The last-page reveal in this issue also suggests that John’s pursuers have raised the stakes. These are both promising developments; one of the strengths of the first series was the constant tension and feeling of danger around John, that he was out of his depth and Jake’s help was the only thing giving him any hope of escape or survival. Now he’s on the run and doesn’t know if he can rely on Jake’s help, and his enemies have, figuratively speaking, popped a power pill.
If you like clever, well-written espionage stories with exciting action, do yourself a favour and check out Where Is Jake Ellis #1. (In fact, you should pick up Who Is Jake Ellis first, then read Where Is Jake Ellis #1, and if the prospect of waiting for the next issue seems daunting, you can then go and catch up on Edmonson’s The Activity to pass the time with even more action-espionage goodness).