Whenever a gifted creator concludes a work of genius, there is always concern and trepidation that their next projects will fail to live up to the legacy of its predecessor. Whether it is a musician whose first album is amazing but whose subsequent attempts are somehow missing something, or a writer whose second novel just isn’t as impressive and visionary as the first, there is a fear that the magic has somehow slipped away. Just ask any disgruntled Star Wars fan who pretends that episodes 1, 2, and 3 don’t exist, and they will tell you that sometimes greatness is fleeting. That was a fear I had when I first picked up Terry Moore’s Echo. Being been a huge fan of Moore’s work, I was heartbroken when his critically-acclaimed Strangers in Paradise came to an end, and I must confess some anxiety that perhaps his new project would not be able to fill the void that had been left with Paradise‘s conclusion. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I’m sure many creators in Moore’s position do, that what if he was only good doing that one thing? What if that musician only had one good album inside them, or that writer only had enough ability for one great book? Fortunately, my fears were allayed with the first issue of Moore’s new series.
The first issue begins with a military test on a new type of liquid metal body suit. The body suit is being worn by a test pilot who is strapped to a jet pack and doing flight maneuvers over the desert. Things are going smoothly until the testers decide that they want to see how the suit responds to a missile attack. Despite the protests of the poor test pilot the military destroys the suit and its wearer, and a series a small, sticky balls of putty rain down from the explosion. The stories protagonist, Julie whose is taking pictures in the desert, sees the explosion and is quickly covered with the small pieces of debris. She returns to her home, absolutely freckled with the strange substance, which begins to coalesce and reform itself. By the books end, a portion of Julie’s upper-torso has become covered with the liquid metal substance.
The most striking aspect of this book is the synthesis of the superhero story coupled with the attention to character development that Moore honed as an indie creator. While Moore has established himself as person who can write interesting and developed characters, I was curious how he would handle incorporating the superhero elements into his storytelling. Thus far, it appears a seamless unity of the two styles that often times are mistaken as being mutually exclusive. The first half of the book focuses on the superhero origin story. The secret test involving an advanced new body suit, and the military’s willingness to kill for it, are established. The second gives the background of Julie as a real person. As she listens to the messages on her answering machine, the important foundation for her background is provided. Furthermore, the artwork also effectively marries the two storytelling components without any noticeable shift. In the beginning, the scenes with the test pilot attempting to save herself from the military attacks show that Moore has no problem drawing action sequences. Yet his style is not compromised by the violence to the point that it can’t also capture the natural beauty of Julie photographing a desert flower.
Now, of course, it is far too early to predict the success and quality of Echo, and is certainly impossible to claim that it will have the same impact on the fans that Strangers in Paradise did. After reading issue 1 though, it can be stated that Moore is beginning this book with the same quality of storytelling and elegance of artwork that made his early work such a hit. Most importantly, it does not leave the reader feeling that Moore has somehow lost his step or that his abilities as a creator have diminished with the completion of his masterpiece. For Moore, that means that the most difficult hurdle for an artist in his position has been surmounted. Echo shall rise and fall on its own merits and will not have to worry about unfair comparisons to previous accomplishments. I for one enjoyed the first issue and am anxious to see where Moore plans to take us as the story continues.