Graphic Novel Review: First Knife by Simon Roy and Daniel Bensen

FIRST KNIFE TP

A couple months ago, I reviewed Junction, the debut novel of Daniel Bensen. After I posted it, Mr. Bensen was kind enough to thank me for my review and to discuss our mutual interest in writing. He recently suggested that I also read a graphic novel he co-wrote for Image Comics called First Knife, about a post-apocalyptic future Earth. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would be my thing, but I read it, and it was really well done. I can recommend it.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Be aware that this graphic novel is rated M for blood and violence.

First Knife is a graphic novel/short comic series co-written by Bensen and Simon Roy, with artwork by Artyom Trakhanov, Jason Wordie, and Hassam Otsmane-Elhaou. (I didn’t know there were so many people involved in this kind of thing.) Set in the 33rd century, it shows a world ravaged by climate disasters and wars, with humans reduced to tribal cultures, but still serving ancient, godlike machines. First Knife is the war chief of the Hudsoni, a tribe based around the Hudson Bay Sea in the now-warm and fertile Canada. When the Hudsoni’s machine patrons, the Devas, warn of an ancient “demon” awakened in the ruins of “Shikka-Go,” First Knife decides to go there and deal with the threat personally…but things in Shikka-Go are more complicated than he might believe.

Described as “a sci-fi adventure equal parts Conan the Barbarian, Nausicaä, and Zardoz,” I didn’t really know what to expect with First Knife (not least because I haven’t seen any of those movies). However, I ended up liking it a lot. It told a compelling story, went in directions I didn’t anticipate, and left me with thought-provoking questions. Plus, the world of the 33rd century was well-developed and believable (with bits of speculative evolution mixed in), and I wish we’d been able to see more of it.

Honestly, my biggest complaint was the art style—not that it’s badly drawn. It’s professional and conveys the meaning well. I’m just not a fan of the style that uses heavy black lines for a lot of the detail and shading. It makes the images too busy in my opinion, but maybe that’s just me.

I can’t speak to the whole “Conan the Barbarian,” thing, but I thought First Knife really worked in a “worlds collide” sort of way, and if you’re a fan of this corner of the sci-fi world, it’s worth checking out.

Disclosure: this post was made at the request of Daniel Bensen. All opinions are my own.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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