Start Again #1 (Jamie Me Comics)

While most probably best known as the host of the Twitter account and weekly event, #comicbookhour, Jamie Me is also a comic writer and creator in his own right, such as political crime thriller series Queen, and currently funding on Kickstarter a remastered edition of Start Again #1, a superhero comic which focuses on online harassment, mental health and the price of fame.

Publisher: Jamie Me Comics
Writer: Jamie Me, Archie Dait (Editor)
Artist: Toni Doya (Artist), Sean Callahan (Colourist), Jamie Me (Letterer/Design)
Price: Now funding on Kickstarter

Start Again follows the story of Ajay, a young man who, due to a bathroom mix up on a night out, encounters Natalie. However, when things between the pair get a lot more ‘intimate’, an unusual distraction causes Ajay to have an unfortunate mishap. Fortunately for Ajay, he also happens to be premier Government Superhero ‘Jump, allowing him to come away unscathed. However, when the event is captured on video and leaked online, Ajay finds himself outed as a superhero and his reputation destroyed. Now Ajay must start again as he struggles to deal with his fall from grace as well as some surprising consequences of that fateful night.

Start Again is an interesting idea, as it tells a slice of life tale for the superhero genre. In this first issue, Jamie Me focuses on the secret identity aspect, the Clark Kent of the Superman character that is Jump as we are given a story of Ajay out at a bar, picking up a girl and various other ‘regular’ events throughout. This makes Start Again a particularly refreshing superhero read, as the book forgoes the standard ‘flights and tights’ to pay closer attention to the individual beneath and his struggles with what he does. Indeed, Me offers up interesting story points not often seen in the genre, such as an instinctive misuse of superpowers and a subtle hint of depression, which are seldom seen by the Big Two.

Of course, the issue isn’t perfect and it’s flaw is in the characters who feel underdeveloped. This is most notable in Ajay, who feels like a very blank canvas here while Natalie is the same due to underuse. In fact, the best developed character is sidekick/roommate James, whose humour and support make him the most fleshed out of the three leads.

Meanwhile, Toni Doya’s art is really gorgeous in this issue, with crisp, clean pencils and a style which has a distinctly Vertigo look to it, crossed with a touch of Jamie McKelvie. As a result, the style really works well to give the story a very realistic feel, although it takes a moment to get used to after years of reading superheroes in the ‘house’ styles. These pencils are best seen in this title with the landscapes, particlarly when envisioning Leeds Cirty Centre.

This look is helped by Sean Callahan’s colours which, while looking flat in places, really enhance Doya’s work and imbue the realism to a much greater extent. If there is one problem here it is in the graphicness of the opening sex scenes, which made this reader feel a little uncomfortable. Of course, this can’t be held against the art team alone as the story most likely asked for it while the fact it caused discomfort is further testament to the realism.

Start Again is a really interesting comic which subtly, and quite beautifully, takes a look at the cost of fame under the guise of a superhero comic. While the issue isn’t perfect, it sets up the stage as all good first issues should do and offers plenty of questions and cliffhangers to draw you back for issue 2. If you are a fan of long term story telling and are curious about the downsides of being famous, this is a book you should check out.