The tone and ambiance of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line meets the sci-fi adventures of Black Science and VS in this military action thriller where sadistic entities from beyond known space have invaded the planet.
When the joint military action known as Operation: All-Weather fails, the world burns and chaos unfolds. Now the remaining members of Gladiator Two-Six must scramble to mount a counterattack against a seemingly unstoppable enemy.
The Warning Volume 1 TP opens up slowly. Edward Laroche keeps his hand close to the chest for the first couple chapters. We’re told in the solicit that a massive machine materialized on the US West Coast, and that alien heels are inbound. But it takes a minute before we get into the meat of this thing. A group of genetically and technologically enhanced soldiers are en route…somewhere.
Bounce back a few months, and some scientists discover an anomaly that apparently led to this insanely specialized unit’s deployment. The timeline bounces all over, from pre-contact, through the processes that brought the soldiers of Two-Six to the point we see them in storyline current, through the events post-contact. Details aren’t exactly forthcoming regarding the actual threat, but there’s a hell of a lot to unpack.
The artwork has a cinematic feel, which makes loads of sense, considering Laroche’s background as a storyboard artist. There are places where Laroche is as economic with visual details as he is with exposition in the script, but much of this arc is dedicated to setting mood and dialing up tension, rather than clearly defining the threat and developing characters. When things finally pop off, though, it moves quickly.
The combat scenes are brilliantly laid out, and Laroche plays around quite a bit with perspective and angles. There’s one scene I particularly enjoyed, with a high speed, high tech dogfight between one of the Two-Six team and, well, whatever the enemy structure just deployed to take down his craft. Laroche superimposes imagery of two raptors trying to rip each other out of the sky over the air-to-air combat. The intensity and stakes of both scenes play into the nature of combat and survival, on the basest levels.
I tried reading The Warning as individual chapters as they were released, and I had a problem with this thing in episodic format. In theory, I should have loved it. It has all the elements that lean into my personal tastes, but I found the pacing clunky and awkward. That all being said, this story works brilliantly in trade. I blasted right through the chapter stops, and had to search back to figure out where they originally were. In this format, I lost myself in the story, and that’s about the highest praise I can give.
I have to say this thing feels complete after the conclusion of this first arc, though. Not sure where Laroche can take it from here, or how the intensity can build following the blowoff in Volume 1. Time will tell, I suppose. Bring on the “Silent Sea.”
The Warning Volume 1 TP collects chapters #1-5, Image Comics, released 24 April 2019. Created, written, and illustrated by Edward Laroche, color Brad Simpson, letters by Jaymes Reed.