Publisher: 451 Media Group
Writer: David Baron
Artist: Yusuf Idris
Colorist: David Baron
Cover: Steve Morri
Emma London is a bounty hunter and recovery specialist, operating out of Central City making her living chasing down the criminals that the police are too afraid to touch. She’s also a cyborg, disdainfully referred to as ‘Stained’ because of the color of her cybernetics. In a constant search of a paycheck she throws herself into her work, reveling in the rush of combat. On the promise of a huge pay day Emma attempts to take down a pair of diamond smugglers, one of whom the police have never been able to capture. However, things quickly escalate when Emma’s overconfidence costs her the kill and she’s forced to take them on toe to toe.
David Baron, most notable as Colorist for Valiant and DC Comics, tries his hand as writer for Stained and does a pretty decent job. The pacing is fast pretty much right from the start moving from action sequence to personality building and then right back into the action. There aren’t many supporting characters in Issue 1 but Baron manages to inject personality into Emma no matter what is going on. Emma is incredibly headstrong and sure of herself. She displays a strong affinity for combat and has a fairly sarcastic sense of humor. Her short interactions with the police Captain, her friend Detective George and the banter with the officer who pays the bounties are nice breaks to help the reader get to know Emma and get inside her head.
Visually, Stained reminds me a lot of the manga classic Battle Angel Alita. Often in books heavy on action there are instances where it can get hard to follow the sequence of events. Yusuf Idris keeps it pretty light even when Emma is being tossed around or punching a bad guy in the face so there isn’t anything lost. The art style, action panels and perspective is very well done. I’d really like to see some of these panels on a live action show.
Stained as a whole reminds me of a mix of existing manga characters Battle Angel Alita and Major Makoto Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I honestly can’t tell if Stained is trying to compete against other books in that Sci-Fi/Future/Bounty Hunter sub-genre or if it’s paying homage to them. All in all Stained is a pretty solid book. The first issue isn’t much beyond its action but the little slivers of characterization and foreshadowing for events to come make me eager to see what comes next with Issue 2.