Ajay Verma meets a girl named Natalie Brown in an awkward manner at a club in Leeds. The two hit it off and quickly become enamored with one another. However, back at her apartment, he has a hallucination which leads to him falling off of her balcony and into the street naked. Ajay is a hero named Jump, and his ability to survive that fall makes his identity known. A man gets it on film, and Ajay becomes a national embarrassment and a tabloid sensation.
The setup to Start Again is reminiscent of No. 1 With a Bullet by Jacob Semahn and Jorge Corona. Both deal a lot with social media, the tabloids, and the destructive potential of both.
The defining difference is the superhero element, even though Start Again at least begins as a “not a superhero comic” superhero comic. We only see Jump in costume on the cover and in screenshots from news articles.
Also like No. 1 With a Bullet, Start Again succeeds through its compelling characters and its ability to show the victimization power of social media. Natalie Brown is a sturdy girl who finds charm in odd situations. Ajay Verma is a dorky and awkward guy who just so happens to be nearly indestructible.
An interesting note is that the story is told from the perspective of Ajay’s friend and roommate, James. He is the supportive “sidekick” to Jump, and we don’t get a whole lot on him in the first issue. His narration is jovial and conversational, but it doesn’t convey a whole lot.
The comic flows quite well, too. It doesn’t waste time overexplaining things. It holds back that Ajay is a hero until the plummet and subsequent video. Then, you immediately get who he is, what he is, and why this is bad. It’s economical and creative storytelling, and I like it.
Toni Doya’s artwork is well suited to the task of this story. The art conveys detail and expression very well. The body language of Natalie and Ajay is very prominent and gives subtle information to the reader. Doya’s work can give a lot of information in small spaces. Sean Callahan’s color art is very well balanced and distinctive. A lot of the comic hovers around reds and purples, creating a nice color identity of its own.
Start Again is an enthralling dive into celebrity culture, social media, and the ins-and-outs of social life mixed with being a famous superhero. It balances the public identity and personal in an interesting manner too. Jamie Me, Toni Doya, and Sean Callahan did a fantastic job with this book, and I highly recommend checking it out.
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