What you know is wrong.  Please move in an orderly fashion.  There was no re-entry here, no UFO, no extra-terrestrial activity.  Your memory is incorrect.  Please look directly at the red light.  Your Major Spoilers review of Deep State #1 awaits!

DeepState1CoverDEEP STATE #1
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Ariela Kristantina
Colorist: Ben Wilsonham
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Eric Harburn
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Deep State: You’re not truly paranoid if they really are out to get you.  At a certain point, the only pertinent question becomes, “Who is THEY?”



Let’s get this out of the way: Any series which features a male and female protagonist dealing with the unknown will draw comparisons to ‘The X-Files’, and yes, I saw that show and hear echoes of it in this issue.  That said, there’s a few major differences to examine when comparing the two stories.  ‘Deep State #1’ opens with a really effective sequence of a spacecraft entering Earth’s atmosphere and crashing, only to open and reveal a strange pair of glowing eyes in the darkness.  Smash-cut to young woman poring over some sort of files in a late-night office, obviously burning the proverbial midnight oil.  Her boss arrives, names her as Ms. Branch and sends her away from her investigations into “cold cases”, establishing that she is some sort of investigator-type person and that she looks for clues that others don’t.  That’s pretty much all the background we’re given to Ms. Branch in this issue, which becomes problematic when she arrives home to find a man calling himself John Harrow in her apartment.  Harrow explains who he is, what he does, and how he knows all the answers to all the mysteries, offering her a job in a mysterious agency that doesn’t really exist.  The interaction between the two characters is drawn very well, making a long talking heads sequence interesting, and the story quickly sends Harrow and Branch off on their first mission, checking out the crashed ship from the beginning of the book.  While Harrow’s lack of back story makes perfect sense (he is a prototypical Man In Black, after all), the lack of follow-through on WHY he wants Branch and what her particular skill set may be is confusing…


Harrow gets the best moments in the second half of the issue, knowingly sparring with a genre-savvy sheriff about the crashed “UFO”, then quickly saving his protegée from certain death, and I do like the cliffhanger that ends the book, even if it, too, has elements of familiarity to anyone who has watched a monster movie in the last 40-odd years.  As first issues go, it’s an interesting set piece, reminding me of Kolchak, of ‘Men In Black’, and, yes, of ‘The X-Files’, with bits of conspiracy and UFO lore thrown in liberally for seasoning.  It’s a decent start, but feels incomplete as an individual chapter, with too little attention paid to our point-of-view character for my tastes.  The story we’re given is good, and has good bits and nice dialogue, but the two halves of the issue seem to be a tiny bit out-of-sync to me, with little to no transition between Branch’s recruitment and their mission into the unknown.  Still, it’s a lovely issue to look at, with really lively art and a color palette strong in blues and oranges.  Most of all, Ariela Kristantina really knows how stage a scene for maximum impact, with several really great moments due to the staging rather than the content of the story…


There’s always a dangerous game to be played with first issues: Too much back story can alienate, too much action without establishing consequences and characters can have the same effect, and this issue takes a middle path that doesn’t quite do the best service to either our build-up and introduction or the beginnings of our action.  Even so, Deep State #1 has an intriguing story to tell, aided by really expressive art and a fun (if familiar) premise, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m willing to give this book at least three issues to see if they can match the pacing to the potential of the story and setting…


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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