27 represents a fairly intriguing premise marred by uneven execution. The story’s lead is (former) rock star Will Garland who, one year ago, was on top of the world and at the peak of his musical skill. Cue crippling nerve damage in his hand and flash forward to debt, drug use, and desperation for Will. None of the doctors have any answers for him, and unconventional science is starting to look more appealing. Will makes a deal on a bad side of town with a man in possession of a machine. The man dies as do 9 cats, and Will finds himself with a device embedded in his chest granting him temporary virtuosity at a random skill for a short period of time. Think of it as a supernatural horror-tinged Dial H for Hero with a rock and roll bent.
The solicitations promise this to be the first of a four issue series, which is either good or bad depending on how quickly writer Charles Soule chooses to clear up some of the opacity of the story. The plot moves along soundly enough, getting Will into the machine and out with a new gift or curse. Soule deals with the particulars of this stage of the story with admirable economy. At the same time, it’s possible to get a little lost. Case in point, there’s a sequence at the mid-point with two—for lack of a better word—entities discussing the deal that will give Will the gift he ultimately receives. It feels a little too clever by half, with the two-page spread alternating between the two speakers, each transforming into an object or an animal between panels. I’m not sure why yet, but perhaps Soule doesn’t intend that at this point. It is clear that Will’s in trouble, though—you can’t expect to step into a magic machine, kill 9 cats, and not have some kind of consequence to it.
Art is handled by Renzo Podesta who brings a very angular style to the book, rendering the characters with very sharp dimensions. The trick with this sort of stylization is whether you’re into it or not. I can’t say I’m sold on it yet, based on the renderings of the humans in the plot but I can easily see how it might make for some very interesting demons and creatures—things Will might doubtless have to contend with in the remaining three issues of the series. Not that I think the work is poor, it’s just of a very particular style. I will say that Podesta has an impressive way of moving action along with inventive panel flow that keeps the story alive.