The most appealing part of the debut issue of “Who is Jake Ellis?” is the confidence on display. I was tempted to say that this is a poor first issue because it barely tells us anything, but that’s by design and part of the story. We’re not meant to know what’s going on. Instead, the scenario is presented with style and flair and skill, and that’s enough. Edmondson and Zonjic throw it out there in an exciting and engrossing manner, and it’s up to us to keep up. I admire that sort of confidence and it’s apparent in “Who is Jake Ellis?” #1 from the first scene.
We’re shown the first scene twice. Once from an ‘objective’ perspective where Jon Moore says a few nonsensical things, shoots a bottle of booze, and jumps off a boat. Why does he do that? Well, that’s where the second showing of the scene comes into play as we see it from a perspective closer to Jon’s. We see and hear Jake Ellis, a ghostly figure, tell Jon what he should do to survive, Jon’s pieces of dialogue directed at Jake. It’s quite a display of storytelling bravado and genius to introduce the characters to us in this manner. Immediately, the concept of their relationship is easy to understand: Jon sees and hears Jake, but no one else does.
What the opening scene also shows off is Tonci Zonjic’s artistic chops. He’s done enough work for Marvel that his name shouldn’t be unfamiliar to most readers, nor should his stripped down, suggestive cartooning. The way he lays out the scene so that it not only works with the addition of Jake to the proceedings, but also that the second and third pages can be chopped and edited into a single page without any drop in storytelling. The change allows for a fantastic splash (no pun intended) of Jon sinking beneath the water after jumping off the boat.
From there, the issue doesn’t exactly clarify what Jake is or why he watches out for Jon like he does, but it does drop some clues about both men. We know that some Americans are after Jon and that Jake is trying to make sure he’s not caught by them – or the Spaniards that Jon ran from at the beginning of the issue. Is Jon a criminal? A spy? Something else entirely? It’s unclear.
Instead, the personalities of the two are shown through their interactions, Jon more carefree than Jake. The issue doesn’t slow down too much, always on the move with action and thrills. It reads very quickly, but leaves you wanting more. Honestly, I picked it at my shop because I was reviewing it. That won’t be the case with issue two. I’ll be buying it because the first issue left me wanting to know what happens next.