Blow Away #1 Review: A Bleak But Beautiful Appearance

Blow Away #1 is well-crafted balance of perspective and detail.

There is something about nature, particularly the more extreme natural environments, that serves as an equalizer. Strip away nearly everything human about an environment and all one is left with is perspective and within perspective, detail. It's an extreme natural setting that kicks off Blow Away #1 and between the unforgiving arctic and the details held within it that writer Zac Thompson and artist Nicola Izzo have crafted a story that simultaneously feels as sparse as the frozen wilderness and as complex as the details of a snowflake.

The story centers around a photographer, Brynne Brautigan, who is on the remote and desolate Baffin Island trying to capture footage of a rare bird coming back from near extinction as part of her latest project. Brynne has been on Baffin Island for a bit and her time there and as such, the isolation has led her observations to go a bit wider than just the birds. In the process, she's found herself observing the few others on the island, including two climbers and, with her time on the island running out, Brynne thinks she may have captured footage of one climber potentially having murdered the other. However, Brynne's adventure doesn't stop there as she finds out what has happened to the climbers reveals something perhaps a bit more dangerous afoot in the remote, frozen wilderness.

From cover to cover, Blow Away #1 is expertly done and works as a stunning example of using the setting as a framework for the art. Much as the arctic landscape is sparse, so is the use of narrative and its structure within the issue. We're given a lot of what Brynne is thinking, but we're given that inner monologue—and a glimpse of her loneliness and isolation, in a sense—through rather short snippets of her thoughts. It's carefully structured and as one reads, it develops a cadence of its own. That rhythm shifts as Brynne grows more invested in the goings on of the strangers she's observing and becomes more entangled in events, even as an observer. It gives the issue and the story itself something of its own pulse despite the issue not containing a lot in the way of visual action in a traditional sense. It's a framework that both lets the reader into Brynne's head and thus, into the story, but also pushes things forward in an enticing fashion.

This approach also plays well with the artwork. For an environment that is so large and inhospitable, the art uses Brynne's isolation to anchor itself in details that make the space seem more personal. The reader visually grasps the scope of Brynne's environment and, as a result, her scale in relation to it, but also are able to see how the environment has its own secrets: Who is the hunter? Where did those climbers come from? And what exactly is occurring in that final panel? There are mysteries here that are as much about Brynne and the things she is observing as they are about the world she's immersed in; the art does a fantastic job of expressing that both by itself and in support of Thompson's storytelling. And it's all supported with Francesco Segala's precise and strategic use of color that brings warmth and chill in equal turns at just the right moments.

Blow Away #1 is a rare first issue that works on practically every level. Thompson makes expert use of the setting and environment to stage a story that is both raw and rich, utilizing the artwork in a way that supports its efforts without overpowering or over-reliant upon it. There are plenty of rich and interesting details and plenty of mysteries to unpack while still giving the reader just enough to compel them deeper into a complex and harrowing journey.

Published by Boom Studios

On April 17, 2024

Written by Zac Thompson

Art by Nicola Izzo

Colors by Francesco Segala

Letters by DC Hopkins

Cover by Annie Wu