‘Cemetery Beach #1:’ Comic Book Review

Warren Ellis starts his newest series, Cemetery Beach, with a cheeky wink to the reader. Our hero, Michael Blackburn, is in a military interrogation chamber, stripped to his birthday suit, and chained to a table. We think the scene is going to go one way, but Ellis immediately shifts our expectations, and then shifts them again, and again, and again. It isn’t long before Blackburn meets an accomplice in his adventure, Grace Moody, and the wild, sci-fi romp that is Cemetery Beach begins.

The last Warren Ellis book I read was Trees which was a serious political, science fiction fable of sorts. Jason Howard was the artist on that, as well. Here, Howard’s work is the star of the piece. His visual, action-packed paneling is visceral, thrusting the action ever forward through a range of environments. We’re able to get a handle on what kind of world this is without the action ever stopping. Ellis trusts him to get across everything he needs to with little to no dialogue.

The fun thing about this book is that Blackburn has no idea where he is, so his trust is put in Moody who seems to be at her best when she jumps before she thinks. The issue is them pin-balling around, physically being tossed this way and that, while maintaining the highest level of charisma possible for two characters we’ve just met.

I have absolutely zero idea where this is going to go, but as an all-out actioner, it’s pretty strong. Also, that’s a great title.

The one thing, if I were to give any note at all, at least something I noticed, is there were no sound effects used. Maybe the choice was made to avoid such things, so that it wouldn’t seem like typical comic book fare, but as a sort of balls-to-the-wall action scene with multiple explosions and edge-of-your-seat moments, some well-placed sound effects may have heightened some of those moments. If used keenly, a well-placed sound effect adds to the moment without distracting from the art. Did not having sound effects hurt the comic? No. It was just something that I took notice of, and with Ellis’ penchant for thumbing his nose at the typical, I would have loved to see what inspired way he may have approached this aspect of the comic book action genre.


Creative Team: Warren Ellis (writer), Jason Ellis (artist), Fonografiks (letters)
Publisher: Image Comics
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