I’m a little confused, and that’s OK. Ruthven: Citizen Investigator, created and written by C. & Q. Bowman, has done what every first issue is supposed to do: it left me with questions.

Ruthven: Citizen Investigator unfolds in the dark and corrupted world known as “The City State.” The first issue follows Maria Topka, a former waitress who was kidnapped and trained as a warrior for reasons not yet clear. Fortunately for Maria, titular character Citizen Investigator James Ruthven rescues her and provides a much needed amount of exposition. The investigator reveals their smog-filled precinct home is built on corruption, but means of bringing about a hopeful resolution are within their reach.

The creators have done something incredibly commendable. They created an indie comic that is different. The layout of panels feels less like a dynamic shift from frame to frame and much more like the storyboard for the comic book baby of The Book of Eli and Repo! The Genetic Opera. The panel layout is interesting and eye-catching, if not a little confusing. All of this intrigue is allowed to flourish because of the easily read lettering (I’m a sucker for good lettering).

Ruthven Citizen Investigator photo

Despite how interesting the world C. & Q. Bowman have constructed is, I’m still not hooked. There are just too many pet peeves for me. I love subtlety of dialogue more than I love good lettering and Ruthven: Citizen Investigator didn’t give me that. Call me picky, but I really like for the place markers of a story to have inventive expository names and sensible pacing; the titles “city state”, “lair”, and “chief of staff” just didn’t do it for me.

All in all, I really needed a prologue. I want to know more about the characters and this world and I hope the writers continue to expand the way they illustrate and construct dialogue.

Maya Reeves BGN profile photo

Maya Reeves is a collector of hobbies and is probably hip deep in a passion project at this very moment. She can be found spreading the good word about sex education and the joy of sarcasm via her Twitter handle @insertgoofyname.

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