Review: ETHER #1


Written by Matt Kindt
Art by David Rubin
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: November 16, 2016

Ether is a word that holds several meanings. Most commonly, it refers to a substance, mixed liquids of various chemical nature. But, it can also be defined as the substance believed to fill the upper regions of space, perhaps on the way to the heavens. Ether #1 encompasses both of these definitions to some extent: not only is it a swirling mix of beautiful story-telling, but it also promises to explore a land as mystical as it is intriguing. Matt Kindt’s new thought-provoking story, with fantastically composed art by David Rubin, published by Dark Horse Comics, is an absolute powerhouse of a first issue.

Boone Dias is a scientist. A scientist, first, perhaps, but an explorer of the magical as well. Boone travels to Ether to scientifically document its existence. He simultaneously disproves the existence of true magic, opting for the rational mind of science instead, while swimming in a land that’s nothing but magical.

In his latest bout of exploration to Ether, Boone finds himself summoned by the mayor to solve a crime most heinous: a murder. As the story unfolds, we bear witness to methodical crime-solving with a splash of the mystical, meeting characters of all shapes and sizes and watching magic itself weave its way through this highly imaginative world.

Matt Kindt is a story-teller, and one of the best, at that. His stories are often tinged with wonder, plodding seamlessly forward in strange worlds utilizing stranger perspectives. Ether, however, though a concept less complicated to understand than some of his other words, like Mind MGMT, is perhaps the most wondrous of all. Kindt plunges the reader head first into a world that feels equal parts Dr. Seuss and Harry Potter, and it takes a substantial amount of energy not to scream along with joy at this new realm to explore.

Kindt has provided a tale that extends beyond intriguing, begging for more. The prospect of diving ever-deeper into Ether promises adventure and fantasy. I feel quite attached to the characters already. Their dialogue is written in a way that flows naturally, like these characters have existed for decades in the backdrop of your mind. The plot moves along steadily, every page whipping around as they are turned in excited fervor. I place utmost faith in Kindt as a writer, and, as usual, I am far from disappointed.

The art in this story…oh man…the art. David Rubin has captured every magical corner of Ether in bright and whimsical glory. The characters are beautifully drawn. Boone is consistent and easy to track throughout the winding realm, and each new character and strange species that is introduced is absolutely delightful to soak in. The magical creatures here are diverse and fascinating. Rubin concocts each character like something straight out of a toddler’s imagination.

The linework is swirling, yet readable, providing a background that never belies the fantasy of the world, but is also easy to trace action from panel to panel. The colors are gorgeous, a wide range of bright colors, like walking through a dream. Yet, the colors are natural where necessary, grounding the story in the real world, so the stakes of Ether as a magical realm are never escaped. Rubin does it all: the linework, the inks, the colors, the letters. It’s clear he has a strong handle on the style he’s presenting here, and every piece of this comic just works.

Dark Horse has been cranking out the kinds of stories I love. Strong characterization, intriguing and well-executed sci-fi/fantasy plots dominate their line-up, especially where stories like Dept. HBlack Hammer, and now, Ether are concerned. This book is promising through and through. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but it would be a damn shame to let this series slip through the cracks.

The Verdict: 10/10



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