Review: Exposed #1 / Author: Victor Wright / Artist: Nino Cajayon / Publisher: Geeky Comic / Release Date: Out now
“War, Horror, Crime. Comics that make you look under the bed at night!” With a tagline like that who could resist giving Exposed a try? A professionally produced, American format comic created in Birmingham, with big ambitions and execution that at times delivers everything promised.
The overall impression that Exposed #1 left me with was inconsistency. This is clearly the work of a team of creators that feel ready to step up to the plate and create comics on a par with anything that the mainstream American comic book industry can deliver, but unfortunately they haven’t quite got the full package yet.
Their website gives the impression that writer Victor Wright is the driving force behind Geeky Comic(s?), which is fitting because the writing is the strongest element of Exposed. Following a group of soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy during World War II, the tale's military voices have an air of authority and the soldiers are generally believable and well written. There’s a poetry to these young soldiers as they run willingly into the jaws of death, but a lot of Wright’s hard work is undone when the horror elements are introduced and we have to endure narration like “Why do I sense… we’ve stumbled on an unimaginable level of chaos and death?” I counted at least five people working on this issue, and can’t believe that at least one of them didn’t call him out on that line.
The internal artwork is equally troubling. It’s functional, displaying a good grasp of anatomy and interaction between the characters, but never detailed enough to get excited about, never expressive enough to really move me. Like many artists wanting to work in this predominantly American style, Cajayon seems to be more concerned by quantity than quality, in completing the issue rather than creating a shorter story with more resonance.
That there’s room for improvement shouldn’t stop you from reading Exposed. The creative teams don’t make any mistakes that aren’t common at the beginning of a career in comics, and Exposed wouldn’t be out of place at a publisher like Markosia or Archaia. Their ambitions are high, and I’d rather that than read something unambitious. Ultimately the real sticking point for Exposure is that it doesn’t do anything that Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy didn’t do better in American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest. There’s absolutely no reason for new comic creators to work in the traditional American format, but when they insist on doing so it’s inevitable that their comics will be compared to mainstream American comics. Exposed deserves the chance to find its legs, and if the creative team can wrap up their storyline within another issue or two then I think that they stand a good chance of learning from issue 1 and putting together something truly compelling.