Story/Art/Colors/Letters: Juan Doe:
What They Say:
It’s the celebrity wedding of the century, set in an undisclosed, remote location, with no access to wifi, cell phone reception or the outside world. But the dream wedding becomes a nightmare when, one by one, the guests are brutally slaughtered by a mysterious killer who brands his victims with a hashtag.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I usually perk up when a new AfterShock Comics series comes along but one with Juan Doe always gets more attention. His work as an artist made Monster distinctive and then the run on Dark Ark blew me away with its design and color, making it a highlight of each month for me. With Bad Reception, he steps into the realm of a writer for the first time and handling everything down to the lettering. That makes this a passion project in my eyes and that always warrants extra attention. With as much that goes into just one of those jobs on a book, taking on all four of them is something that will always impress me, especially at Doe’s level because he’s such a master on the artwork side in my eyes.
Bad Reception is definitely something of an intriguing work because it plays to the present day idea of our dependency on technology in a more realistic way. Here, we’re introduced to an engaged couple, Blaise and Gaia, who are doing an off the grid wedding. Gaia’s a massive superstar and Blaise has a solid writing career himself with his latest work on techno-ethnicist garnering a lot of attention. The opening pages are from a radio interview that he’s doing where there is light artwork against the dark but it’s all dialogue. It focuses on the idea of the divide caused by technology and social media, the way it works by playing up the negative, and a host of ideas that are pretty much a given in the eyes of many and of a huge concern. So it makes sense that with his own wedding that they’d have lots of friends there, many famous, and that they’d be device-free for it.
What this installment does is interesting because it’s almost like a half and half thing once it gets past the opening. We get some good time with Gaia and Blaise that shows us a very human couple in a relationship that’s enjoyable to watch. And then we see them hashing out and meeting up with various friends and others that they’re going to invite to the wedding and explaining the deal to them. But mixed into all of this are scenes set against a black backdrop with blood splatter of varying degrees, showing something very bad happening. Obviously, we have clues from the cover since it shows the wedding cake being sliced and it expands within the issue without being completely up front with it. But the details are still to be fully realized and it’s tantalizing enough because over the course of the book we’re essentially introduced to the suspects.
Juan Doe has a lot of potential with this book in going forward with its storyline and I’m excited to see where he goes with it and what twists may come in. It does open in an unusual way for a bit longer than I’d normally expect but it sets down some clear vision ideas that helps to define Blaise before spending time exploring Gaia and then everyone else. Doe’s artwork is a huge draw for me in general here and it’s definitely filled with a great cast to work with that I hope we get to see a lot more of. The layouts are great, I continue to love his color palette for works like this, and it’s just engaging from the start for me. Bring it on.
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: August 21st, 2019