Readers of The Lost Art

“Who is Jake Ellis?”

May 1st, 2013

Jake EllisBy: Nathan Edmondson & Tonči Zonjić (Image Comics)

Reviewer: Alex

A comic with a question in the title! Who IS Jake Ellis? And WHAT is Jake Ellis? And more importantly, WHY should you care?

The first question is actually easily answered, at least superficially: Jake Ellis is a (literally) shadowy figure that only Jon Moore can see. Jon is our protagonist, an ex-CIA agent who has been kidnapped and subjected to painful experiments before escaping and living life on the run as a high-stakes criminal bouncing around Europe. The risks of his lifestyle are mitigated by the assistance of Jake, whose non-physical nature allows him to scout ahead offering Jon invaluable advice and instruction in the midst of dangerous situations. The resultant story is a kind of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) meets The Bourne Identity thriller with the cinematic feel that that high concept might suggest.

The answer to ‘why should you care?’ is that you will probably enjoy finding out. Although deep character development isn’t the focus here, there is enough going on in the unusual relationship between the two characters to retain interest, and the intriguing uncertainty of Jake’s ontological status (supernatural apparition? a fragment of Jon’s subconscious?  neither of the main characters know), combined with pacey action sequences and stylish delivery, makes this an engaging read.

The semi-realistic espionage action does work very well, balancing escalating tension with sporadic frantic energy, and the use of the Jake Ellis character makes it much more satisfying than many other examples of the genre. Let me explain: you know when you’re watching an action film and the hero just happens to be in the right place at the right time to avoid being shot, and just happens find a car with the keys in the ignition and just happens to get the drop on the baddies, and you struggle to maintain suspension of disbelief without resorting to ironic distance (“of course he can do that, he’s James Bond!”)? Well, since Who Is Jake Ellis? avoids relying on unfeasible luck by giving Jon ‘second sight’ via Jake, it’s much easier to revel in the action without having to battle your own scepticism.

The art style is a great fit for the story, mixing a grounding sense of realism with cool clean lines and clever use of colour to shift scenes and moods.

If the book warrants any criticism, it’s perhaps that while the story’s climax works satisfactorily, there could have been a little more acceleration towards it. Once the characters’ direction is set, I found that although I enjoyed the build-up, there was a feeling of just waiting to see how it played out. A little more character weight, some adjustment to the pacing, and maybe it would have read even better than it already does.

On the whole though, Who Is Jake Ellis? is a distinctive, slightly offbeat action-thriller that delivers page-turning mystery and sharp action, well worth a read.

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