Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Lettered by Clem Robbins
Do you know what trepanning is? It’s the practice of drilling a hole in one’s head, typically – in real medical practice – to relieve cranial swelling or some similar extreme circumstance. There also exists the school of thought that opening up the skull allows for more blood to the brain and enhances perception.
In Area 10, Christos Gage and Chris Samnee explore the life of Adam Kamen, a police officer whose perceptions are radically altered and enhanced by an accident – or is it? – that puts a hole in his skull right at Brodman’s Area 10, the pineal gland that affects how we process time and space. Now Adam sees glimpses of people’s pasts and futures. He’s also investigating serial killer “Henry the Eighth,” a homicidal madman leaving decapitated corpses all over New York City. If you suspect there’s a connection in these assaults on people’s noggins, you’re probably correct.
The first thing that hit me about Area 10 is how great Chris Samnee’s art is. This dude really draws the hell out of the book. It’s a police procedural, and a lot of comics artists just don’t have enough body types to handle this in a naturalist style and still give you distinct persons. Samnee handles it with ease. His sense of black and white frames focuses each panel on the perfect emotional or plot beat, and his character acting is excellent. I’ve been enjoying Samnee’s work since Capote in Kansas and Queen & Country, but he’s truly growing as a comics artist and illustrator with each project.
Christos Gage’s script hits the right marks as well. Adam’s your basic crime thriller protagonist: a cop, emotionally distant, brooding and apparently sexy, dedicated to his job. His colleagues – the captain who wants to give Adam a chance to get back in the saddle after his accident, the beautiful psychiatrist who’s a little too close to her subject, the buddy cops who have their mate’s back – are similarly of a type, but Gage’s crisp dialogue breathes some life into those standards.
Area 10 is a tense thriller, woven with a thread of supernatural, the plausibility of which will be heavily weighted on an individual’s suspension of disbelief standards. The entire book builds to a finale that will elicit groans or cheers, with little middle ground. However, the predictable plot buoys up on Gage’s witty script and Samnee’s excellent artwork. Despite my indifference to their finale, I felt Gage and Samnee presented a solidly gripping ride through Area 10.