Review: Men of Wrath 1 by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney | Fanboys Anonymous

Review: Men of Wrath 1 by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney

Posted by Sean Hamilton Thursday, October 9, 2014
Men of Wrath 1 by Aaron and Garney standard cover
Men of Wrath #1 Cover
by Garney and Milla
"Among the Sheep" - Chapter One.

When I was recently reintroduced to the wonderful world of comics, Jason Aaron was a standout talent that seemed to be making waves amongst old favorite characters such as the X-Men.

I was intrigued by his take on these various characters and proceeded to follow along the various stories. I picked up digital collections of Thor and came across his collaboration with Ron Garney. I went and read old issues of Scalped and Wolverine. What I found was a versatility of genre, tone and moods that some creators would give anything to be able to produce.

Aaron has continued to produce high quality work that pushes boundaries and will often rattle a few cages, such as the new Thor, released the same week as this new creator-owned work.

sheep lead to murder for Men of Wrath by Jason Aaron
Sheep set the scene for murder
Now enter Men of Wrath. Wow. I am blown away by the story-telling. I was a little late picking up my copy, but the wait has only heightened the anticipation for the final product. I didn't read any reviews either, so this was all fresh to me.

The basic premise of the story is about an old, blood-stained southern family who are as mean as they are ruthless. The main character is Ira, who carries a legacy of hate that will play out in unexpected ways, I'm sure. The premise as explained by Aaron is quite personal, drawing from the writer's own family history.

This is one comic that must be experienced to fully grasp what will undoubtedly be a monumental piece of craft. I will however try to provide some context for this new series from talent at the top of their game; perhaps then, this will explain why I feel this is a noteworthy comic for any pull list.

Ira Rath Spits blood in Men of Wrath
Ira Rath has a terminal attitude
I haven't had an on-going series from the Icon imprint before, so this was novel. In fact, this is what stood out to me from the cover by Garney and Matt Milla. The focus is not on brand here, except for the creators' names. This gives way to the striking image of our protagonist in Men of Wrath, Ira Rather, as a silhouetted figure brandishing a rifle. Overlaid with imagery of a couple on the run, he stands above a line of sheep.

It turns out sheep can be a useful storytelling device, as exhibited by Aaron's using them to propel us to the past and set the scene for an on-going generational feud that seems both bloody and heart-wrenching. While this story is billed as a crime thriller, it has an emotional weight that feels well-balanced and fits the tone of the book.

Ira Wrath counting money and guns in Men of Wrath
Ira has been in the game a long time
Men of Wrath has great art. Garney brings a heavy but sharp look to pencils and inks in this issue. It is clear from the story-telling ability of Garney, through the different composition and panel arrangements, that you can readily be immersed into the narrative. Credit also needs to be sent Matt Milla's way for the coloring. The tone and feel is beautifully enhanced by Milla, and it is clear that the best results come out when the artists are working in collaboration. The progressive shot on the first page as we close on the sheep's eye was a good hook, but we are treated to a real variety of scenes, lifting, shadow work, and bright and dark coloring throughout the book.

On the final page Aaron pens a letter to readers providing context to the origin of the story. In this, Aaron points out that while this may be the darkest work he has produced thus far, it is accessible for mature audiences who have been saturated with similar-feeling dark work in other media.

Once I had finished reading Men of Wrath, I immediately sent a message to my local comic book shop to put this on my pull list. There is a lot of potential for the story and characters we have just been introduced to, and I want to see where Aaron and Garney take us on this journey.

Have you read Men of Wrath? What did you think? How does it compare to other works of these creators? Leave a comment below.

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