Image Comics is on fire. Week after week, it’s churning out some of the most interesting and innovative comic books around, and Mind the Gap #1 is no exception. On one level, it’s a tantalizing mystery about how a young woman named Elle Peterssen wound up gravely injured and comatose in a hospital bed. But there is an otherwordly aspect to the proceedings that makes Mind the Gap more than a well-written whodunit.
Though Elle can’t move or speak, she is very much aware of the people around her: the best friend and boyfriend, the disapproving Tiger Mom and worried dad, and the detached younger brother who can barely be bothered to pay a hospital visit. She drifts back and forth between reality and a dreamlike limbo that serves as a stopover between life and death. Turns out that purgatory has a sizable population, and at least one tour guide.
There are so many tasty layers to Jim McCann’s story: Elle doesn’t know what happened to her, and there’s something rotten in the medical explanation. Who is the shadowy figure who keeps having ominous phone conversations about a “package,” and what is up with the frosty dynamic in the Peterssen family? As much as I’m itching to learn the what and why behind Elle’s circumstances, I really want to see how writer Jim McCann develops his cast of players.
This issue is perfectly paced, unexpectedly funny in places, and meaty. For $2.99, you get nearly 50 pages of story with nary a bit of filler — quantity and quality. Even better, those pages are graced by Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback’s sophisticated, comely art. It’s the little details that catch the eye, like strands of Elle’s hair intertwining or a pivotal character emerging not out of thin air but curling, white cigarette smoke. The artists obviously took a great deal of care in defining the characters and their surroundings.
With a strong story and a striking visual presence, Mind the Gap #1 makes an excellent first impression. Grade: A