Review of Farmhand Issue #1
Farmhand: Let there be Life
The issue opens with Zeke Jenkins waking up from a nightmare he had about working on his father's farm. The dream ended with his father, Jedidiah Jenkins, apologizing as a sentient tree prepared to attack them both.
Soon after waking up, Zeke starts his day by getting his kids out of bed. Today is a big day, Zeke is bringing his wife and kids to visit his father at Jenkins Family Farm. The Jenkins Family Farm is no average farm. They specialize in growing human anatomy from plant cells that can be used as transplant organs for those who need donors (making Zeke's dream feel more like a foreshadowing).
From here, the issue opens with some action, humor, and family drama as it is revealed that Zeke and Jed may have some sort of dark past.
Something to Plan Around
There wasn't much of an added goody at the end of Farmhand #1, other that a thank you from creator Rob Guillory. The closest thing was on the issue's back cover, where there was a "Seasonal Harvest Calendar" displaying the release dates of each of the next 4 issues.
This may seem like a minor inclusion, but the comic book industry can be riddled with delays and cancellations, so the guarantee of at least 5 issues coming out at a set release date can put fans of the new comic at ease.
Art & Aesthetic
The line art from Rob Guillory was fantastic in this issue. People who prefer a more "cartoonish" style will have something to smile about, as his art does a very good job at portraying humor, motion, and emotion.
Thanks to his heavily stylized art, Guillory is able to get away with a lot in Farmhand. He isn't beholden to anatomical correctness or proper perspective because this series doesn't really call for it. His story is one that reminds readers that this is a comic book, and needn't be taken too seriously. His backgrounds are riddled with clever puns and his figures are drawn with a level of consistency that shows readers that there was a lot of thought put into his renditions.
Taylor Wells does well to uphold the book's high level of art. The colors never muddled Guillory's line art and the only time I took a special notice in them was when they noticeably elevated the line work (like in the epilogue).
My only problem with this book's aesthetic is in the lettering. While Kody Chamberlain did a great job with the design of the font and balloons, sometimes his placement of the word balloons confused the reading order. At times, I felt my eye being drawn to the wrong piece of dialogue because of its location on the page, and reading a piece of dialogue out of order can really take you out of the story.
Plot & Characters
Guillory is quick to jump right into the juicy bits of his plot. After just the first issue, readers are introduced to a couple of sub-plots to accompany the overarching story. While it does feel good to get right to the meat of things, some of his narrative beats are executed better than others. For example, his action subplot was done very well. All of the events had context and he was able to establish characters very organically.
However, when he touched upon familial drama, he used dialogue a bit too bluntly. If characters are going to progress the story through conversation, it has to be done in context, otherwise it can come across as being forced. Furthermore, Guillory's dialogue was a bit clunky at times, but that can be expected from any new writer.
The parts of the story that Guillory did well, he did really well. The action felt like it made sense in this world, and the ending introduced a mystery that I look forward to delve into further.
The Verdict: Get the Trade
Farmhand is off to a promising start. The art is something to marvel and the story is worth continuing; the book just struggles with some of the subtleties that separate a good comic from a great one. Thankfully, most of my problems with Farmhand can be chalked up as growing pains and I look forward to see if/how the creative team matures along with the story.