Written by Phillip Sevy
Art, Colors, and Lettering by Phillip Sevy
Published by Dark Horse Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
“Welcome to my head. It’s intense up here.”
A woman goes on a multiversal journey of self-discovery in the debut of Triage. Evelyn is a labor and delivery nurse, who has just been fired from her position. One she has built her entire life around. However, on other “worlds” she is a day-glo costumed superhero, defeating giant robots single-handedly. On another, she is a Mad Max-esque warrior, scraping and surviving on a dead Earth. But all these women must find a way to fight and live together as they are drawn into a conflict against a reality-hopping robot assassin trained to hunt “variations” of Evelyn.
Standing as Phillip Sevy’s first creator-owned work as both writer and artist, this debut sells its trippy concept thanks to good old-fashioned character work. Each “Evelyn” is introduced in grounded, focused scene work. Woven together by plaintive written, but engaging narration, Sevy takes us on a sort of walking tour of his multiverse, giving each woman a punchy, evocative introduction, culminating in their “team-up.”
Sevy also brings that grounded energy to the artwork. Leaning into the more vignette-oriented structure of his script, each world gets its own look and feel, anchored by its leading lady, and the appropriate trappings of the genre like a garishly colored costume for the super-Evelyn and a gritty, ruthless tone for the desolated world. But it’s all in the service of one woman’s quest to find herself and that I think is the real power and promise of Triage.
As he jumps from reality to reality, the character hook Sevy provides to each woman offers up a lot of narrative potential. Ms. Orbit is a superhero, yes, but she has also become jaded and elitist. Commander Marco is a post-apocalyptic leader, yes, but also willing to sacrifice those she leads at a moment’s notice to further her own goals. Evelyn-Prime’s relationship and job troubles might be small potatoes in comparison, but it is nice to have these personal threads weaved underneath the big, crazy, science fiction hook of the title overall. That said, I do think it’s a misstep to treat the reveal of the other two leads as a mystery, mainly because we can clearly tell all three are the same woman even before the issue reveals as such.
That personal and conceptual duality extends to Sevy’s artwork as well. While we are being whisked outside of reality and through multiple worlds, Sevy is always lock focus on his lead of that reality, building the world around her. In Orbit’s world, it’s all futurist building design and striking cyberpunk costumes. In Commander Marco’s dimension, we are treated to a scorched, desolate world, populated with ruined buildings and bloodthirsty marauders.
It’s all leading to the most bizarre of the issue’s settings, the Outside, a sort of nightmarishly beautiful outer hub between the worlds. Here Sevy completely abandons realism to the issue’s benefit, introducing readers to the Salvador Dali-esque dream logic of this realm. One where cliffs are made of faces and the local plant life are a sort of mash up of body parts. Again, the tonal shift into horror imagery is a bit much, but it really is an audacious final beat and one that leaves me with a lot of questions about this Outside and how else it is going to factor into the story.
Forging a story of personal identity to multiple strong narrative hooks across a whole cast of one Triage #1 is a bold opening gambit for this new series. Shifting well to creator-owned work, Phillip Sevy goes big, but also keeps it personal, tempering the concepts with well worn character work coupled with solid artwork. Part superhero story, part end-of-the-world drama, and all journey of self-discovery, Triage #1 is a bombastic and gripping character study.