Friday, July 17, 2009

Echo Review

Moon Lake TPB (Issues #1-5)
Atomic Dreams TPB (Issues #6-10)
Echo Issues #11-13
Published by: Abstract Studio Comics
Creator, Writer and Artist: Terry Moore

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
— Annie Lennox


The above lyrics from the incomparable Annie Lennox appropriately encapsulate my recent journey with comic books. After having collected comics for over 37 years, I stopped abruptly almost two years ago. I became frustrated with retreaded themes, stale storylines and vapid artwork. Most of today’s creators have become overburdened deadweights who have overstayed their place standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, those creative giants of long ago. Where are the Kirbys and Lees, Kanes and Simons, Millers and Moores, Colans and Gulacys, Bissettes and Buscemas?

I understand that today’s creators must feel pressure from the “Suits Above” who oversee corporate-owned characters seeking to satisfy the company’s bottom-line. After all, we all need to have a roof over our heads and put food on our tables. But, when the creative juices are compromised and the idea flows cauterized in the name of The Company, the monthly serials become maudlin, tedious and old.

The annual storylines that are meant to leave us in shock and awe come across forced, tepid and insincere. The earth-shattering stories that promised massive changes to their title end up leaving us feel ripped-off and cheap. Our decades of loyalty mean nothing as with each published mega-story crossover our devotion is trampled upon, our faces are slapped, our intelligence insulted and our wallets lifted as the Fat Cats laugh their way to the bank. I got so fed up that I expressed myself in a very Finchesque manner, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

And with that…

I stopped buying comic books.

For almost 24 months.

But, now, thanks to three books, I’m slowly, albeit rather cautiously, returning back.

I am going to write about some comics that augurs hope for a medium I have invested into for most of my life. Today’s review is dedicated to Terry Moore’s “Echo” published by Abstract Studios Comics.


Echo is the story of Julie Martin, a photographer trying to make ends meet in the middle of a personal crisis when a massive explosion in the sky sends liquid metal spewing forth onto the earth below. Julie is inadvertently caught in the middle of a metallic maelstrom which places a substance that adheres to her skin leaving her with a malleable yet impenetrable shiny coat of armor that, she will come to realize, seemingly harnesses the power of a nuclear bomb.

The explosion was the result of a secret military test gone awry. When the military find out about the missing liquid metal, they embark on a manhunt for Julie Martin, who they believe has the answers to the whereabouts of this weapon of massive destruction.

At first glance, the above brief description of the story seems like so many of the cookie-cutter, superhero-themed stories that we’ve enjoyed or despised over the years. However, as you will hopefully see at the end of this review, “Echo” is so much more.

The first trade entitled Moon Lake introduces readers to the cast of characters in the book as well as launches them into the tragic plight of Dr. Annie Trotter, the previous “owner” of the armor. Moore’s understanding of the economy of storytelling is displayed as he can take a panel or a page and provide enough characterization to either win your affection or pin your disdain on a hero, villain or supporting cast member.

Moore’s ear for dialogue shows his seemingly effortless skill of choosing the right words for the right character for the right occasion. His writing can be both sensitive and heartfelt as shown in the emotional exchange between Julie and her husband Rick in the parking lot. Moreover, Moore’s comedic timing is spot-on as he masterfully introduces readers to ice house owner, Dan Backer’s, biker gang. Comics rarely evoke audible laughter from me, but the brief and memorable scenes with this gang are priceless.

The first trade also gives us glimpses of why the book was cleverly named Echo as we see Dr. Trotter communicating to Julie from a distant place. There are times when Julie Martin apparently channels Annie and the latter’s words and thoughts echo through the former while in deep thought or conversation.

The second trade entitled Atomic Dreams shows readers the unfettered fury of the high-powered armor unleashed as Julie and a yet-to-be named witness to the explosion who also received a portion of the liquid metal duke it out it the Nevada desert. The manhunt led by NSB agent Ivy Raven provides the audience a personal look into her motivation and her past. As a reader, I’ve been on the fence about Ivy’s motivation for capturing Julie. Does she do this out of duty to the contract as a high-priced and highly-efficient bounty hunter or as Ivy pieces together the puzzle does she really have Julie’s best interests at stake? My read on her is uncertain but one thing I’m certain about: the suspense is taut and the action is awesome.

Believe it or not, the action and suspense kick into another gear with issues 11-13. After reading this entire series thus far, I am reminded of a great quote by Samuel Goldwyn on storytelling which I find very apropos:

“We want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax.”

This is exactly how the story of Julie Martin is being told.


As a creative genius and expert storyteller, Terry Moore has set himself apart. One of the more difficult responsibilities in creating comics is the role of writer/artist. There are less than a handful of combination writer/artists who regularly have their work published. Most writer/artists start out as handling both creative duties but, eventually later delegate one of these responsibilities out. Terry is in rarefied air as he has been handling both the artistic and written duties for his own work since 1993.

The oeuvre of Terry Moore’s work is punctuated by his deft characterization and adept line work. Mr. Moore humanizes his characters like no other. Terry is able to wonderfully illustrate an incredible range of emotions on his characters’ faces as he expertly captures the subtleties and nuances of human expression and effectively and beautifully translates them onto pencil, pen and paper.

Given such investment into character development on each issue, one would think that the pacing suffers greatly. However, Terry has a skilled director’s eye for pacing that keeps readers in an alternating state of suspense and empathy leading up to each issue’s breathtaking cliffhanger.


There’s so much more to this book than I was able to capture in this review: Dillon and Julie’s relationship; the strong family ties of Julie and Ivy; the mysterious content found in the box of Julie’s closet; Dan Backer’s history; how will Annie’s “presence” affect Julie’s relationship with Dillon or Rick; what other projects are going on in HeNRI; how does the metal armor enable Dr. Trotter to “echo” from afar through Julie; etc.

Terry Moore’s Echo is in a league all by itself. Very rarely can a story be told which grabs you by the throat and with each issue keeps you on the edge of your seat with every turn of the page. As a seasoned writer and accomplished artist, Moore’s storytelling acumen is nonpareil, bar none. His powerful narrative is truly light-years ahead of anything produced in the mainstream mass market today. Readers would be doing themselves a great disservice if they didn’t pick up an issue of Echo each and every month.

New readers can easily catch up by purchasing the two trade paperbacks and the last three issues. Echo#13 came out last week and can be purchased at your favorite comic haunt. Or, you can order online from Terry’s site

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