It is the year 2051. Gladiatorial combat is back in fashion, and there are two tiers: normal humans and cybernetically enhanced humans. Zihao is a normal human being hoping to impress enough to receive enhancements and be kicked up to the next level of fighting. He captures the attention of Jasper Carrington, whom employs his old friend, Cassi. Zihao and Cassi poor as children and always dreamed of dragging themselves out of poverty. Zihao impresses his new sponsors, and they plan for the fighter’s cybernetic upgrades.
Nu Way #1 blends cyberpunk future-based science fiction with martial arts spiritualism and a hint of the MMA fighting mindset.
Cyborg cage-fighting is a decent starting point for a comic. I say that as someone with a love of action-based comics and sci-fi, so I’m intrigued by the concept. Building it upon the story of two people, Zihao and Cassi, reuniting after a childhood of living in slums is a good way to build an emotional center into the comic. Both Zihao and Cassi are escaping poverty, and both have or will replace parts of their body to do so. That seems like a good way of exploring the “Ship of Theseus” idea—how many parts of a thing can you replace before it is no longer that thing—which comics about cyborg enhancement so often do. This one has the potential to put a fresh spin on that idea, though.
The ideas or solid; the execution has its hiccups. The pacing is slow in parts, and the dialogue has its problems. None of the characters bloom in this first issue, though there is hope for both Zihao and Cassi. That said, these problems don’t sink the comic, and you can expect it to have a recommendation waiting at the end of this review.
I am quite fond of Alex Konat’s artwork in this issue. The world of Nu Way has a visual identity. It’s often sleek, though this is tempered by the mechanical clunkiness of the cybernetics. Characters are expressive, and Konat knows how to convey feeling and thought through a character’s face. John Starr brings a cool color palette to accompany this cyberpunk world, and it creates a curious yet alienating atmosphere.
Nu Way #1 is a gorgeous comic with a lot of cool ideas and a compellingly emotional core. Some problems lie in the pacing, dialogue, and characterization, and it does lean on cliché a little too often. That said, there is a lot of potential in the premise, and this first issue has a lot of momentum and strength behind it. It earns a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.
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