Nov 202011

Who is Jake Ellis Volume 1
Writer: Nathan Edmonson
Artist: Tonci Zonjic

From Image Comics

While Who is Jake Ellis was coming out in issues, I kept hearing great things but never made it to the store to pick it up. When I was asked to review the first trade paperback for the website I got excited since I’d be able to read all the issues at once instead of having to wait between each installment… and I’m glad that I did.

If there’s one thought to share about this book up front, it would be this: the book was absolutely worth the wait.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story concept, allow me to help you out. Our protagonist, Jon Moore, is a CIA intelligence officer with a spotty memory. He has recently escaped from a laboratory where he has undergone some intense and unknown experiments. Ever since, he’s been on the run while the Government sends all kinds of goons his way to bring him back. Regardless of the experiments that he’s undergone, Jon appears to be alright, except for one minor detail: he now has a fellow named Jake Ellis living inside his head. While only Jon can see him, Jake turns out to be the perfect partner. For reasons not immediately revealed, Jake is able to see what’s coming and let’s John know where he needs to go an when in order to not get caught. Together they decide to return to the laboratory to figure out exactly what happened there and just how they are truly connected.

I know that writer Nathan Edmonson has been in the comic book biz for a while, but this is the first story of his that I’ve read. I’ll soon be hunting down his back catalog as Edmonson manages a story full of espionage, suspense, and questions that leave the reader continuing on in hope of finding out the answers as the characters do.

Artist Tonci Zonjic was the perfect pairing for this story. His style is simple, but his characters are dynamic and the spooky Jake Ellis remains the pink elephant in the room. Together, this team gives us a comic with some of the best pacing in recent memory. Early on, the pages maintain a constant four to five panels per page which leaves a ton of room for Zonjic to give us full, beautiful work as we get to know the characters and settings. As Jon finds himself deeper into trouble, the pace kicks up while the action reaches breakneck speed.

I’m not sure who gets credited with the colors and lettering for this book, but they are both fantastic. The balloons are easy to read and the style used for Jake’s speech was a good decision, ensuring that the reader never gets confused when going through a heavy plot. The colors bring life to the characters and settings, yet help build the tension to the highest levels when danger is upon our mysterious duo.

The first six pages of Jake Ellis we extremely fun, and they show you everything you need in order for the story to completely suck you in for the long haul. There’s a fantastic splash page (the splash part being literal) that you will just stare at for several minutes appreciating the time and love that Zonjic put into this book.

If there’s one point where Jake Ellis falls short it’s at the end of issue #5. Originally planned as a miniseries, we lose some closure as the book was promoted to an ongoing since sales were strong and the book was great. This leaves some story threads dangling that would have otherwise been nicely tied up.

I highly recommend Jake Ellis to anyone who enjoys crime, espionage, or a good old fashioned mystery with sci-fi elements. I’m excited for additional volumes and to see where this great creative team takes Jon and Jake next.

Wes Locher is a lover and writer of comic books. He’s always on the lookout for a great crime story.

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