Before we begin discussing The Chair #1, let’s get into the mood: find a person who loves you enough to deliver a swift kick to your lower stomach. I’ll wait…
Done? Good. Now you’re ready for a story of humanity being stripped away in a cold cell while waiting for death that may come at the hands of fellow inmates or guards well before the legal system flips the switch.
The first issue of The Chair from Alterna Comics is a moody tale of violence and growing despair as told from the perspective of an inmate on Death Row. Peter Simeti wears multiple hats as the story’s writer, inker, and letterer and Kevin Christensen serves as penciler.
As a framework for the story, the narration is mainly from the thoughts of the protagonist, Sullivan. This leads to a lot of exposition and “telling, not showing” that can get a bit confusing at times, but may also be a sign of the character’s growing madness. As the series progresses, I hope to see if this is a plotting device that’s tied up in the end.
The artwork for the book matches the writing tone. It’s heavy, it’s dark, and sometimes a bit muddled. The dark inks certainly give every image a grim tone, but a time or two worked against itself by obscuring the details and action. Sullivan’s friend Jimmy, or “Bones,” meets a grizzly end, but the impact is lessened by having it take place in a jumble of sequencing that doesn’t let us build up any sense of grief.
When the issue ends, we find ourselves with a failed prison break, a restrained Sullivan, and the vague threat of what’s to come being far worse than anything you’d imagine from a “normal” penitentiary.
The Chair is a 4 issue mini-series and this first issue makes a promise of raw, animalistic savagery and survival. Will it deliver may be the biggest mystery.
Overall rating: 3 of 5 stars.