Best Shots Advance Review: ELEANOR & THE EGRET #1 is 'An Enthralling Debut' (10/10)

"Eleanor & The Egret #1" cover
Credit: Sam Kieth (AfterShock Comics)
Credit: Sam Kieth/Ronda Pattinson (AfterShock Comics)

Eleanor & the Egret #1
Written by John Layman
Art by Sam Kieth and Ronda Pattison
Lettering by John Layman
Published by AfterShock Comics
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

The newest title from AfterShock Comics, Eleanor & the Egret #1 unites writer John Layman and artist Sam Kieth as they weave a detective story centered around a young art thief and her avian friend. With particularly strong work from both creators as well as color artist Ronda Pattison, Eleanor & the Egret turns out to be an enthralling debut.

Sam Kieth’s artwork will pull readers in from the opening pages, a mysterious prologue in which Eleanor stumbles upon an egg in a swamp. Readers won’t get many narrative answers to this opening – it’s easy to assume that this egg will hatch into the egret that travels with Eleanor later, but why she’s in the swamp in the first place is unknown. It ultimately doesn’t matter for this issue, as Kieth’s delicate linework and cartoonish character designs, along with Ronda Pattison’s exquisite colors make the opening scene almost hypnotic. Once you start, the beauty of Eleanor and the Egret #1 makes it easy to continue.

The issue’s plot really picks up as a painting by Anastasia Rüe is stolen from a museum (writer John Layman cleverly masks an exposition dump as a tour guide explaining the significance of the painting). Ronda Pattison’s color art really makes the painting stand out. While most of the issue is rendered in a muted palette, the painting is given vivid oranges and purples, making it stand out from everything else in the issue. It’s a brilliant way to convey the importance of the artwork to the plot. The theft of the painting brings in the issue’s big player, Detective Gilbert Belanger. Kieth gives Belanger a classic Holmesian look, with some added styling, and this immediately conveys to the reader certain expectations about the character. Layman’s script then plays with those expectations, as Belanger tends to stumble upon his clues either by luck, or due to his feline companion, Cheswick.

The use of animal companions is one of the issue’s curious eccentricities. Eleanor and her egret are working heists together, while Layman gives Belanger an endearing attachment to Cheswick as the detective (as so many pet owners do) talks to his cat and projects answers onto the feline’s mewing responses. It quickly becomes apparent that there is more going on to this world, however, as Eleanor’s egret communicates in a more direct manner, and it will be fun to see how Layman builds this connection moving forward.

Gorgeous artwork by Sam Kieth and Ronda Pattison and a script by John Layman that subtly lays the groundwork for a magical world make Eleanor & the Egret #1 a fascinating debut. The characters of Eleanor and Belanger make for an instantly appealing pair thanks to Layman’s great character work. With just enough mystery to go along with this solid first chapter, readers may find themselves waiting anxiously to get their hands on the second issue.

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