Review of Injection #1

Injection 1by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire

After close to a year of anticipation, the debut issue of Injection feels more like writer Warren Ellis’s Trees then the creative teams Moon Knight, with an incredibly measured introduction that’s heavy on build up but light in almost everything else. As much as can be gleamed from the first issue, Injection seems to be about a group of scientist reeling from the past trauma of a shared experience in different states and places at the time of the story. I say seems to because there is so little to go on that it’s hard to even come up with a basic synopsis of the story in terms of actual plot content. Mostly, Injection is a series of conversations and to their credit, the team makes the conversation intriguing and engaging, you can almost understand a sense of who these people are and what this book is about from that but it’s never very clear. This is basically the polar opposite of the teams Moon Knight run, which was hyper compressed and deliberate from the opening panel going forward. It’s nearly impossible to come away from Injection without a jarring feeling if you had any expectation at all based on the teams past work. And that’s fine, I wouldn’t expect Ellis, Shalvey & Bellaire to get together again just to make Moon Knight at Image comics but the reversal in style and tone is probably the most pronounced aspect of the book for better or worst. That’s a long way of saying in sum total that this comic isn’t Moon Knight, but moreover, it isn’t really anything. The team has earned my trust and patience that it will shape into something as the series evolves and what little we do see hints at some potential but as of now, the book itself is almost as much a mystery after reading it’s content as before I knew anything. Take from that what you will, just don’t expect to take very much.

9 thoughts on “Review of Injection #1”

  1. Patrick, this is an excellent, well-written review of the comic; your critiques are legitimate and fair. However, I respectfully offer my opinion that this was one of the best comics published this week.

    To me, the comic plans to explore the hubris and danger of elite individuals, governments, and corporations trying to create our future and monetize knowledge. As you note in your review, the first issue hints that the three scientist protagonists – in partnership with the government and a sinister corporation – tried to do some amazing things; things apparently went badly and they all look miserable and unhappy, and I am intrigued to learn what happened to their optimism.

    Interestingly, I liked how the three fallen scientists, who seemed to be working on cutting edge projects or research, are now near old objects or sites – Maria is in an old hospital with an Old English name, Robin is walking the oldest road in England,and Brigid lives in a decrepit rustic shack near what appears to be a Stonehenge-like site. (And the scientific problem Maria is recruited to solve is caused by an archeological object). It’s as if the protagonists, disillusioned with trying to create the Future, are trying to explore the Past, or at least get as far away from the Future as possible. (Based on Ellis’ recent prose work, I suspect this might reflect his growing dissatisfaction with Futurism and increased interest in historic “deep time”.)

    Ellis’ prose is beautiful: “She dreams of those infinite childhood Augusts when she didn’t know anything and nothing was coming, and wakes up with cold in her bones.” “You can’t escape your genes, he thinks, any more than you can escape your own heart and vessels. Just tend to them. Just listen to your pulse. But don’t mistake it for a drumbeat. Don’t march to it.”

    In INJECTION (just like with TREES), Ellis is writing a serialized novelistic New Wave science fiction comic, and I think it’s a very interesting effort that deserves reader attention. (The comic looks great, too).

    1. First of all thank you. Secondly, you make a few excellent points that I either didn’t totally catch or neglected to explore further in my review. That’s lame on my part because really, why else would I review a book were it not to point out that stuff. That being said, I’m not sure if that’s enough to make up for what the comic lacks, which is actual concrete story content. I want to emphasize NOT SURE because I’m honestly not, it’s only the first issue & I have no idea what it will mean in the context of the larger story. Plus as I said in the review, the creators have more then earned my trust. And I want to say that I appreciate the ambiguity of the symbolism or signals that you point out, we need more of that in comics or really, fiction in general. It’s a credit to the book that it isn’t trying to hold your hand & tell you everything that’s happening. Does that make up for a comic that is basically an elongated introduction minus the last few pages? Time will tell but I have in the creators and their process.
      Also just to mention again that, for anybody with any expectations based on Moon Knight, this going to be kind of jarring in comparison no matter how you slice. How much of my somewhat tepid reaction to Injection is related to my unequivocal love of Moon Knight is admittedly probably more significant then I was prepared for or might have even considered before writing the review, fair or not.
      I think what you mention is an important element to add to the analysis of the book & I’m really happy you commented (we’ve basically given the readers another review/comic convo) I think both pointing out what you wrote & sort of giving a base line consideration of the story from an elemental level that I tried (emphasis on try) to do in my review are both important pieces of the conversation for readers that what to engage with Injection on an analytical level and I really appreciate you adding that to the discussion.

      1. I agree that the first issue is mostly a slow introduction to the series. But what I admire about the comic is that Ellis (both here and in TREES) is writing a New Wave science fiction comic book. The New Wave was an effort that began in the 1960s to write literary science fiction and avoid the tropes of pulp adventure science fiction (like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, as examples).

        I think it’s a challenge to write New Wave science fiction in a serialized comic book format, particularly when the audience (and I include myself here) is used to and expects adventure pulp. Image Comics has released a lot of interesting science fiction comics recently (FUSE, COPPERHEAD, PROPHET, ZERO, etc.) but they all have pulp adventure elements (and so does INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, which I think is another ambitious science fiction comics project). But TREES and INJECTION minimize the pulp action and focus on the impact that ideas and actions have on characters and community.

        I don’t think that any comics creative team has ever tried to do something like this, and I’m very excited to see if this experiment works out.

        1. “I don’t think that any comics creative team has ever tried to do something like this, and I’m very excited to see if this experiment works out.”
          I think that last part is key, it’s an experiment that is moving into uncharted territory on some level. Trees is an apt comparison but I do feel that while the first issue of that series was similarly sparse, it did give a lot more then this one. Because of that, among other mitigating factors, I have to reserve my judgment of quality on some level on the debut. Also, Cosmo almost chose this as TWF, I’d like to see his thoughts on the matter as well.

          1. Man, Reed really broke the comic down in an interesting way. I think Mr Ellis would be pleased with this analysis. I didn’t notice all those things; of course I had a parrot chewing on my ear lobe at the time. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

  2. I really liked this much better than the Trees and Supreme debut. It is correct to say that the whole issue is a mystery but to me it doesn’t feel like it’s suffering from the poor writing that a lot of unintentionally confusing/mysterious comics suffer from these days. There seems to be a method to the madness in this case. Of course if the mystery turns out to be too metaphysically wild, I’m out. So far, I dig it.

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