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Intersect #1 by Ray Fawkes Review

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<i>Intersect</i> #1 by Ray Fawkes Review

Writer & Artist: Ray Fawkes
Publisher: Image
Release Date: November 19, 2014

Ray Fawkes’ interest in the metaphysical dates back to his 2003 graphic novel Spookshow, in which dead spies returned to life under an arcane series of rules. Fawkes has a dramatically satisfying talent for revealing the mechanisms of intricate fictional universes, even while suggesting further mysteries to come. The first issue of his new Image series, Intersect, plays to those strengths, and adds a steady unease that graduates to outright horror over the course of its debut issue. It’s a captivating read, made especially distinctive by Fawkes’s stylized paintings, which sometimes work to the detriment of the storytelling.

Intersect begins with an awakening: a character returns to consciousness, aware of his surroundings, his body. Though to call it “his body” might not be entirely accurate — one of the mysteries behind the narrative relates to the nature of the corporeal anatomy its characters occupy, which seem to be ambiguous composites. “This is where I end and we begin,” the book’s narrator, Jason, says early on, and he means it literally. Another character, The Kid, appears to have taken over the body of another character, his face emerging from the back of the body’s head. The Kid’s name may well be an homage to a similarly-named character in one of the urtexts on surreally shifting cities, Samuel R. Delany’s novel Dhalgren; if so, Fawkes is aware of his predecessors, which is a promising touch. The first page pegs the location of Intersect (or, at least, this issue) as a city called Treidot, and the map provided looks like a collage, a seemingly-random assemblage of torn-up and reconnected grids and highways.

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This inaugural story is already in progress when the reader reaches the first page, as Jason and The Kid explore Treidot, pursued by an unseen and menacing figure named Lucky. There’s a third central character as well: Alison, the woman Jason loves, whose body merges with Jason’s to enter a constant state of flux. Suggestions of past friendships and traumas connect with questions of how the world came to be this way. The setup is compelling and evocative, teasing plenty of questions that will (hopefully) be answered in the coming issues.

At times, Fawkes’s art recalls the work of Dave (Sandman covers, Mr. Punch) McKean in its stylization, particularly its incorporation of sound effects and onomatopoeia into the artwork. The way one character’s neck breaks, for instance, takes on a particularly visceral quality with the accompanying CRACK. Given that one of the main characters appears to be two personalities occupying the same body, Fawkes does a fine job of making clear who’s in control. That the narrative contains both surreal happenings and body horror sometimes works against it, though: more clarity might boost the latter, but at the expense of the former. For the time being, Fawkes’ art strikes a good balance between the two.

Other small details emerge on repeated readings: the sense of geography, of weather gone mad, of a shared history among these characters that’s alternately benign and horrific. Beneath the abundant menace found here is a story of a primal loss, and between the fraught interactions between Intersect’s characters and its nightmarish setting, there’s plenty to both haunt and entice in this first issue. Much of the series’ success or failure will come from how well Fawkes follows up on the questions that this issue raises; for now, it’s a beginning both exciting and unsettling.

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