"No. 1 with a Bullet #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jacob Semahn
Illustrated by Jorge Corona
Colored by Jen Hickman
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on February 7th, 2018
Only a few days have passed since a sex tape was released of TV host Jad Davis and his assistant Nash Huang. Jad has been relatively quiet on the subject, but he prepares to make a public statement as his show returns to the air. Meanwhile, Nash is losing her grip on reality as her life is falling apart around her. Will Jad come clean about recording Nash without her permission? Or will he try to save his own ass?
Writer Jacob Semahn does a brilliant job of guiding you through this story. You're led to believe one thing and then the rug is pulled out from under you. What is particularly interesting is how Jad is depicted. He is most definitely the bad guy here. I guess you could say the person that leaked the video is also a bad guy, but it wouldn't exist in the first place if Jad didn't record it without Nash's knowledge. Yet, there are moments where you almost feel bad for him. I say “almost” because no amount of remorse or regret is going to undo the damage he's done.
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You can see how this pending decision is weighing on him. He's been wrestling with what to do next for some time, consulting with his boss, his manager, and his wife. Everyone weighs in on how they can collectively get through this mess. Jad is the face of a TV show. If he goes down, so do everyone that works for him. Should they be punished for his misdeeds? See how this can be a strange feeling?
One aspect of Jad that I like is how you rarely see his eyes. Artist Jorge Corona often depicts Jad with his glasses on, shielding his pupils from the reader. Instead you see emotionless white circles that are impossible to read. He could be winking at you under there or he could be making angry eyes. You just don't know.
Contrast all of this with Nash's life. We find her handcuffed outside of the museum of the dead after causing some damage to the place. Fortunately, the detective looking into her stalking case was able to bail her out. It didn't stop the dozens of people driving by snapping pictures with their phones during rush hour traffic. My stomach churned every time one of these wannabe paparazzi showed up. There's something sickening about others profiting or reveling in someone else's misery.
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The scene where Jad makes his fateful announcement on air is especially harrowing. Corona splits this up with a ton of panels, each focusing on a different aspect and then zooming in. We see Jad's actual broadcast, stoic and unmoving and we see what Nash is seeing, which is more cynical and derisive, then in the middle is Nash herself in complete shock. The panels close in on her face, then her eyes as tears start to shed. It's just one more layer in the shit sandwich she's been delivered.
Jen Hickman's colors give No 1. with a Bullet a preternatural feeling, like this isn't real. This works as a great juxtaposition because this situation could not be more relevant right now. You could see this playing out in headlines every day.
No. 1 with a Bullet is a horror comic like no other. It hits like a punch to the gut with real world monsters. These are not mythical beings or supernatural creatures. These are normal everyday people capable of incredibly heinous actions. That is a million times scarier than anything that fits the typical monster stereotype.