The Homeland Directive

the_homeland_directive_cover_sm_lgSo, Venditti does it again with this great [photoshop] premise that makes you question all of these inner workings [photoshop] of the government. Right when you think it can’t get any more [photoshop] twisted, he’ll push the narrative a little further. It’s such a [photoshop] thrill ride.

There’s just one thing that absolutely kills this story’s momentum.

Yes, the photoshop.

I find it so hard to understand Huddleston’s choices. Yes, he’s the artist, etc. but in comics there is the added responsibility of being able to tell a fluent story. The photoshop robs so much from what is a great story.

From the get go, you don’t know what is happening in the story. There are shady (literally, they’re all grayscale) government meetings. After, with no hint of connection, there are attempts on the lives of doctors from the CDC. Laura Regan has no idea why the government wants her dead. Neither does the group of FBI agents that have gone rogue to protect her. They do understand that whoever can get control of the truth will be the team left standing.

The story does a neat job of fulfilling the promise of that premise. A nice mix of government cover-ups with a dash of action makes a delectable conspiracy cocktail.

So it’s weird that, in a story that depends so much on pacing, the art would become so muddled. It’s doubly weird that the majority of the book speaks to the accolades that Huddleston’s bio lists. It’s obvious that he’s highly talented; most of the book is hand drawn.

Then there are establishing shots and random objects and all of the cars, which really need to be photos? It is so weird to be asked to read through a chase scene with stale photos of cars used and a couple of action lines used to suggest motion. That might not sound too bad, however in order to be consistent, the same picture of the car has to be used. The best you can do is flip which direction it faces. Leaving your chase pictures options to either right to left or moving toward the reader? Wow!

It’s just as jarring to see buildings and objects invade this completely inked world. While it could be forgivable, once you notice it, (and notice that it’s done poorly), it’s hard to feel good about it anywhere. Some buildings are obviously not facing the same direction, or are completely out of scale to each other. A character will randomly interact with a cup of coffee. That is, a photo of a cup of coffee.

This isn’t to say that photos in comics don’t have their place, but, goodness, it was distracting here. The real kicker is that Huddleston has this great drawn style and occasionally you would see sketched cars or buildings in the background, which fit so much better with the style of the book.

From the get go I was impressed with the coloring of the book. There’s a lot of photoshop here, too, but it works with the story. Much of the book is rendered in shades of gray, but then a hint of color on a character or in the background will illuminate the scene. Conversely, if there is a lot of action in the scene, the background is blasting color at the reader. Sometimes monotone, sometimes a frantic variety, but it is all effective.

Honestly, the quality of the majority of the art and the excitement of the story are guaranteed to help you get past the photoshop. If you like entertaining the notion of government cover-ups, The Homeland Directive is up your alley.

The Homeland Directive
by Robert Venditti
Art by Mike Huddleston
ISBN: 978-160309024
Top Shelf, 2011