Writer: Mohsen Ashraf and Patrick Meaney / Artist: Jeff Edwards/ Image
The back alley cold open of Syphon #1 is a visually engaging introduction. Jeff Edwards’ artwork and John Kalisz’s colors pop off the page as a mysterious woman named Katherine emerges from a dark blue cityscape to a saturated aura of dread to help a man in need. She is violently attacked from behind and immediately the staging for the bleak and dark tones of the series is set. Yet even with the cynical writing as Mohsen Ashraf and Patrick Meaney transition to our actual protagonist Sylas, there is something hopeful and worthwhile in the pages of the first issue.
The power that Katherine’s spirit passed on to Sylas is simple enough to understand: the ability to see other’s pain and then syphon it. Which is a perfect fit for Sylas given his job as a paramedic and his want for redemption. Ashraf’s story features a very well-constructed backstory that is mostly told through Edwards’ art. The dialog is purposefully vague during exposition in order to let the visual medium be visual. Within the first handful of pages, we learn so much about Sylas and the nature of the power and so much of the gravity and scale of it is conveyed through the art.
So many of the narrative beats in Syphon #1 feel familiar. There’s definitely notes of inspiration from the superhero genre (some tangible Green Lantern vibes), but it’s notably not a superhero story. It’s a supernatural story for sure, but Sylas is a normal paramedic doing his job and slowly gets involved with a more convoluted world as the pages turn. There are very clear noir influences with the dark grit of the world, but it still remains hopeful. Meaney does an excellent job of helping bring Ashraf’s story to life and pacing is overall excellent.
This short three issue mini-series is off to an incredible start. Each page is fascinating to look at and Sylas’s story has a deep well of mythology and intrigue to keep any reader’s attention. I’m very excited to see how the rest of the comic plays out if this is how it begins.
9.1 “Medics” out of 10