Who would think to combine a smart but tough Special Forces doctor who looks like he could not only kick your ass with his pinkie nail but already did without you noticing with magic and science fiction? Who would dream up a combination so strange? Erik Hendrix would, that's who. According to the back matter, this is a project that has been rumbling around in his brain longer than I've been reading funny books. And it shows. Issue #0 of Erik Hendrix's Faction was released through limited distribution last Saturday. I got my electronic review copy on Friday but haven't held a real copy so I can only guess that the color cover would look as good in person as it does on my monitor.
Faction is a primarily self-published comic and as is standard with the self-published comics, its contents are black and white. The cover has a brilliant use of warm colors and the impression of light jumping off the page which has become very popular in the last few years. The interior pages have this same light impression but without the colors. If only someone would print these things at a reasonable cost...but I digress.
So, Faction. This is only issue zero and you can feel the amount of story and character about to explode. You only get so much room in an issue zero to hook people in and set up your story/scene. You can't go too far with one character or you run the risk of setting your other characters up as flat and you can only go so far into the plot with so few pages. And somehow, you still need to leave a hook. Faction delivered.
The book starts off with our "origin" story as it were of Acker Kinney, a 43 year old Special Forces medic. Though I am pretty sure there is going to be some more "origin" to come. This story is of the events that led up to Kinney leaving the military however involuntarily and finding his way to the team he is pictured with on the cover. After being the sole survivor in his unit of a roadside bombing Acker wakes up in a hospital missing an arm and lamenting the end of his military career. After a period of lackluster convalescence, he is attacked in the middle of the night by what he labels as a demon creature and defended by a group of people who seem to know him very familiarly. Interestingly enough, the character doesn't shy from the fight with the demon nor does he stop to wonder if it is an odd thing to be fighting a demon in the middle of the night in a hospital ward. Potential foreshadow? Quite possibly.
Kinney joins up with this group who keep calling him a name he's never heard before - Asa - but not before dying first. You would think a dead man could catch a break. But no, after some convincing, he has to spend his time in intense physical and mental training. The issue ends with his graduation from training but doesn't give us a "what's next", leaving the door wide open and leaving us wondering what he was training so hard and so long for. And also wondering how these people know him. Does he know them?
In this zero issue we are introduced to the main members of the team and Acker. The team isn't fleshed out much but there are enough dropped hints to a larger back story for the team as a whole and the individual characters as well. We see just a taste of who Acker's enemies will be and are left with a question of what his function will be in his new life. As I said earlier, it shows that Erik has been thinking of this one for a while - there are a lot of details that seem to be hiding at the edges, waiting to be read in future issues. The issue is packed with back matter and Erik told me that the review copy I received only had a smidgen compared to what will be out in print. There are character bios that give us more information than the issue did but that I'm sure will be of great use when issue #1 is out.