By Andy Frisk
August 11, 2010 - 13:04
As Ryder on the Storm opens, Mr. Ryder, private eye investigator, receives a late night call from lovely nightclub singer Katrina Petruska. Ms. Petruska is in very big trouble. It seems her lover spontaneously committed suicide by drilling eleven holes in his head with a power drill while she was in the shower. Her lover, Michael Hudson, was a very rich man with the usual S&M tastes so often acquired by the bored rich in such tales, so things don’t look too promising for Ms. Petruska’s quick exoneration of wrongdoing since she was with him when he died. Ryder though has his own theories on Hudson’s death which go beyond a suicide caused by the abuse of hallucinatory drugs. It seems that “once there were daemons” according to a strange hand written journal of Hudson’s and they may be among us once again…
At first glance it would be easy to mistake Ryder on the Storm for a Bladerunner knockoff. Ryder even wears a brown colored fedora much like Bladerunner star Harrison Ford made famous in the Indiana Jones movies, helping to remind one of the actor and by extension Bladerunner. Ryder wears a long brown trench coat as well though, reminding the seasoned reader of another mystical investigator, John Constantine. Ryder is neither Deckard from Bladerunner or Constantine from Hellblazer though. He’s a unique amalgamation of the two, and therefore doubly as interesting: think Deckard with supernatural talents.
Ryder’s unique supernatural ability is not made expressly clear in the premiere issue of Ryder on the Storm though. Contextual clues point to some sort of magical and extremely powerful and potentially demonic dark side, but readers will have to wait for issue #1 proper to get a better understanding of Mr. Ryder and his abilities. This hinted at and unexplained supernatural element to Ryder mixed with the continually rainy and smog choked megalopolis of the future he inhabits is the strongest aspect of the teaser premiere issue Ryder on the Storm. As a reader, you really want to know what Ryder’s secret dark power is and how he uses it to right wrongs or at least maintain some semblance of balance between good and evil in himself and those he comes into contact with. It’s a great storytelling hook that does its job superbly. Writer David Hine displays his well honed ability to craft an opening tale that captures the reader’s imagination and leaves them wanting more.
Another aspect of Ryder on the Storm that leaves the reader wanting more is Wayne Nichols’ artwork. Nichols creates a realistic and believable looking film noir-like setting that mixes images of rather primitive technology (vacuum tubes) with modern tech (routers and modems) while sprinkling in gothic imagery (demonic looking stone gargoyles that vomit water). His characters' facial expressions and visages are very well drawn, and he also creates realistic and believable looking vehicles and city streets. The real visual magic in the artwork stems from the coloring work though (like it does in many of Radical Publishing’s titles). Feigion Chong and Sansan Saw manage to drench the whole affair in somber tones which juxtapose nicely against the video screen glow emanating from Ryder’s mishmash of television and computer screens in his office and the video screens in the futuristic taxi he takes to the scene of the crime.
Overall, the Radical Premiere issue of Ryder on the Storm does everything it is meant to do perfectly. It introduces an interesting protagonist who is mysterious and intriguing along with a world that at first glance looks tired and overused as a setting, but reveals itself to be potentially very interesting and frightening. Ryder on the Storm looks like another potential hit for Radical.
Rating: 8 /10