In comics, exposition is huge. So often writers aim to immerse us in their worlds quickly, immediately, using word blocks and bubbles as a way to say “This is what’s going on.” In Veil #1, Greg Rucka does the opposite. There’s no direction, no guiding hand, no “Here’s what we’re doing.” Instead, we get a cold, wordless open that basically says, “Whoa, crazy shit coming. Good luck!” And it’s awesome.
Veil #1 introduces our eponymous title character naked, unconscious, and surrounded by rats. Family friendly! The issue starts slowly, featuring stark panels, fractured mumblings, and a few non-explored hints to something more. A lesser writer may have lost his audience in those first few pages, yet Rucka (aided by Toni Fejzula’s emotive art) lures you along, letting you peek behind the curtain to find, well, more curtain. It helps that Veil herself is so damn interesting, a curious mix of confused innocent and something…else. Her nonsensical rhymes at first seem just that – rambles from a broken mind. As the story progresses it becomes apparent that maybe, just maybe, there’s a bit more substance to those words than was originally thought, as certain phrases seem well fitted to the scene at hand. Upon finishing the issue I immediately went back and read it again, this time really focusing on what was being said.
Therein lies the trick of Veil; Rucka gives you just enough to become invested, but not nearly enough to make sense of it all. This first issue is a giant tease, but it births so many possibilities that it’s impossible not to ponder what happens next. Rucka’s Veil is one remarkably enigmatic character, and by issue’s end we readers aren’t too certain of how well we really want to know her.
The art by Fejzula is tough to pin down, his cartoony style seemingly an odd fit for the subject matter. There’s a simplicity to his design that at first seems too sweet for the story, like a Disney film gone wrong, yet as you look closer you notice there’s a darkness to it, an edge just beneath the surface. His city is dark and dangerous, neon signs glaring brightly against the dull, muted environment; his inhabitants leery eyed and jackal mouthed. Much like the title character herself, there’s a subtlety to Fejzula’s art that becomes more pronounced with each page. His simplistic style lulls you into a certain sense of expectation, so much so in my case that the end pages caught me completely off guard. Note, when I say simplistic I don’t mean simple; the artist’s use of shadow and depth is stunning, while his muted coloring results in many an eerie and unnerving image. Veil is damn spooky, and though I didn’t realize it at the beginning, Fejzula was meant to draw this book.
Veil #1 is a strong debut that promises an even stronger series. Rucka and Fejzula prove a great fit, playing off each other’s strengths and working some truly messed up magic. It’s too early to guess where Veil is going (and what Veil even is), but the creators endear you to try. Do you dare?