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Injection, Volume One (Image Comics, 2015; #1-5)

  • This might be the most Warren Ellis comic I have ever read.  Shadowy government bureaucracies? Check.  A dysfunctional team with complicated interpersonal dynamics? Check.  A pervasive sense of Britishness? Check.  I actually lost track of how many times I thought, “This reminds me of James Bond,” or “…The Authority,” or “… Moon Knight,” while reading Injection, but it was not infrequent.  That’s not to say that this book feels derivative—far from it, in fact.  While it may remind me of other books by the same writer, that is because it reminds me of the best parts of Ellis’s work on those titles.

So what is Injection? At its core, it’s a thriller; it follows the members of a former British think tank, years after they worked together.  All of them are damaged—it is clear from the get-go that something broke bad, but as the reader, you do not know what off the bat.  What you do learn right away is that weird things are happening, and each of them feels responsible.

At first, I thought this would be a book about some kind of government conspiracy, but it is actually almost the opposite—no one outside of the original think tank seems to really know what is going on, and it falls to them to perpetually deal with the magical strangeness that keeps cropping up.  Much of the book’s initial tension comes from wondering just what they have done to have left them each broken down and feeling obligated to make things wrong.

(I’m also a fan of how Ellis uses narrative in this arc, but the less said about that, the more I think you’ll get out of reading it.)

Part of the reason this book evokes Moon Knight (2014) is its shared art team.  After drawing and coloring that book with Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire moved with him to Injection in 2015.  The pair’s artwork here is very clean—not without detail or texture, but focused and precise.  Sometimes, that means an intricately drawn sandwich with detailed lines in its lettuce and lichens and textured colors that given each layer of the sandwich depth; others, that comes out in a violent explosion of thousands of leaves, or a cave full of crystal.  Realistic or or not, the art is about giving attention to what really matters.  It draws in the reader and controls focus, and it makes a book that could have been muddled or messy clear and clean.

So yes; as is usually the case, I would recommend this book.  It’s very easy to point the creative team alone and recommend it simply based on their talents, but the story here is different and intriguing, and I struggle to immediately come up with another book quite like it.  As for caveats on this one—I got nothin’.

(And while you’re at it, you should really check out the team’s Moon Knight run.  It comes from a similar place of weirdness without demanding familiarity with the character.)

Collected in

  • Injection, Volume One (#1-5)



Writer: Warren Ellis | Artist: Declan Shalvey | Colorist: Jordie Bellaire | Letterer/Designer: Fonografiks | Production Assistant : Elle Power

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