At first glance, Ezra appears to embody many of the things I dislike about comic books these days: multiple variant covers, scantily-clad women for no apparent reason, too little story and a late shipping schedule. And yet, despite all of that, when I saw it on the stands today, I was happy to finally see it after what felt like months of waiting.
You see, Ezra, Sean O’Reilly’s highly-appealing, blue-tinted, medieval mercenary, has what I refer to as the Drew Barrymore Appeal. Against all odds, no matter what she does, no matter how ridiculous – ie: marrying Tom Green – she somehow manages to come off smelling like roses. I believe the old-school term is pluck. Ezra has pluck to spare, an impetuous badass prone to getting herself into and out of trouble, as quick with her wit as she is with her sword.
The first two issues jumped right into her story, offering just enough background sprinkled throughout to clue readers in on the basics. A thief since she was 12 years old, her parents and older brother dead, she’s just trying to not get hassled, not get hustled, keepin’ her head above water, making a wave when she can. Good times!
And make a wave she does in this issue as she confronts Nephilia, a purported goddess with an army of cat people at her command, attempting to complete a job for Barak, the head of her thieves guild, that would ease her money issues “for quite some time,” he says. As was the case in the first two issues, Ezra realizes the job isn’t a cakewalk, finding herself in yet another life-threatening situation, and, in fact, finds out she wasn’t expected to survive it!
One of the best things about Ezra is that O’Reilly is obviously having fun with it. There’s no overt parables to current events here, no high-minded philosophy on the blurred lines between good and evil, no forced attempts at expressing female empowerment. Ezra is a good old-fashioned action romp, Peter Parker’s hot great-great…grandmother from the days of Conan. While he takes a minimalist approach to the narration and dialogue, allowing for frequent consecutive panels of uncluttered action, it never feels padded in that written for the trade paperback way that’s become so common. Like Geoff Johns’ work on Teen Titans, every issue offers a bit of a payoff while always driving the larger story forward.
Which brings me to the other best thing about Ezra: Alfonso Ruiz’s energetic artwork. Slightly cartoony, but with a graffiti-like edge that works for the setting, Ruiz not only delivers on the main character but gives each of her supporting cast a distinctive feel as well. Even Nephilia, with an outift that would make Michael Turner blush, comes off right in the world Ruiz depicts. The addition this issue of Gabo on inks is a seamless one, doing nothing to hinder Ruiz’s pencils and O’Reilly gives him plenty of room to play with. The high-quality paper stock also means the coloring, credited to Benny Fuentes the last two issues, really pops off the page…an important thing when your main protagonist is blue!
This issue ends with a cliffhanger and a disturbing “conclusion next issue…” teaser. I really hope that’s referring to this particular story arc as Ezra is a book I hope to keep seeing on a regular basis.
Ezra #3 (Arcana Studios, $2.95); Written/Created by Sean O’Reilly, Pencils by Alfonso Ruiz, Inks by Gabo, Colors by Benny Fuentes.