Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: May 13, 2015
Once upon a time, there were five crazy people, and they poisoned the 21st Century. Now they have to deal with the corrosion to try and save us all from a world becoming too weird to support human life.” So reads the opening pitch sentences of Injection #1, the latest collaboration between Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire (Moon Knight). Promising science fiction, horror, crime and more, Injection is an austere new series from a creative team with a great résumé for the promised material.
“Without reading a review synopsis or the solicitation information, figuring out Injection’s aim in the standalone first issue is difficult. Whatever Injection is—that’s buried under an esoteric surface, full of listless malcontents. The book picks up in media res, the focus seemingly on setting up an atmosphere rather than introducing hooks, and this results in a comic in which it feels hard to invest. The main ideas of Injection #1 are buried so deep, the resulting read is an overall disconnected experience.
The book’s setup is rather paint-by-numbers, something that’s disheartening when it comes from a team whose last collaboration seemed obsessed with pushing imagination. Ellis seems to be pulling from his overused toy box rather than charting new territory; our lead is aloof, weird and threatens people with beatings, while other characters thrive on witty repartee over anti-social behaviors, all of which culminates in a macabre final punchline. These characters don’t feel special, potentially at home in any of Ellis’ comics past or present. The thing that tends to make an Ellis book truly worthwhile—new ideas to push the medium, forward-thinking pseudoscience and a sense of exploration—seem missing in the first issue.
Shalvey’s past showed an incredible amount of vibrancy in the line work. His characters flew across the pages, which seemed to come alive with an energy of their own. But with Injection, there are no clever visual hooks that push Shalvey’s storytelling along. They’re replaced by a linear set of panels and characters that don’t demand our attention. Shalvey and Bellaire still make for a very complimentary pair, and Bellaire colors a distinct air of malaise to the comic. Despite how clean and orderly the book looks, though, it never the less lacks any particularly defining characteristics—only two rather visually exciting pages are hidden in the latter half of the book.
Perhaps Injection is meant as a slow burn. After all, most reactions to injectables are not entirely instantaneous, and a post-apocalyptic book that focuses on defining its characters and environment isn’t inherently a bad way to start the series. In fact, the book is fine enough all in all; it’s drawback is that there’s nothing noteworthy yet, nothing in that makes this series a must-read for fans of the creative team. By issue’s end our investment in the series is minimal.
So despite being “created by the acclaimed creative team of Moon Knight,” the book has none of the vibrancy, energy or urgency of that series. Moon Knight immediately blew doors down with its character-fueled adventures, but Injection casually leaves the gate open with no direct invitation inside, and no particular reason to stay—some will find the bleak sci-fi set-up of the issue inviting enough, but for the most part Injection lacks the intrigue or rousing overtures of past collaborations.