On its surface, "Spread" #1 is a comic with a familiar story, involving a parasitic monster that spreads by its touch, infecting everything that it comes into contact with. But what makes "Spread" #1 work is not necessarily the core idea, but rather the execution of what's inside. Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm's comic proves to have a strong and memorable first issue, with the promise of many more to come.
At a glance, "Spread" #1 is a strange merging of "Parasyte" and "Lone Wolf and Cub," with a bit of the film "The Thing" thrown in for good measure. The creature known as the Spread has multiple forms, and watching them move, infect and kill is a disturbing process thanks to both Jordan and Strahm. The duo shows it to be not only a fast process, but a physically destructive one. All teeth and tentacle, the Spread is horrific right off the bat as soon as it's revealed.
At the same time, it's more than just a horror show or violence porn. There's some interesting worldbuilding going on here; with the Spread having already taken over part of the planet, the idea of a quarantine zone as well as scientists still attempting to study the Spread says a lot about the overall situation that everyone's in. Then there's No, the protagonist within the world of the Spread itself. In many ways he's still a bit of an enigma, but I like that Jordan is already fleshing him out a bit by the end of the first issue so that we know more about him.
Part of it is that Strahm manages to draw him in a way that gives us a poker face at a glance, but then you catch a glimpse of his eyes and we see more there. Surprise, fear, anger... the rest of his face might move but those glints in his eyes carry a lot. I love Strahm's depiction of the Spread itself -- it's macabre and hideous and entrancing -- but in many ways it's No himself who shows that he's got some real talent.
The narration of the book is an interesting route; in a 3rd person omniscient voice, we're given the identity but it's not quite who you might think. The knowing nature of our narrator works well, though, and I appreciate that Jordan doesn't have the narrator play all the cards too soon. Without the narration I'm not sure "Spread" #1 would have quite the same impact, as it leads us down the path we're following.
"Spread" #1 is a pleasingly good debut, one that should make you want to read more. With a fun twist on why No's mission is so important, there's a lot of potential for where it's going to head next. Once again, a strong new series from Image Comics.