Issue: NOLA #1
Release Date: November 18, 2009
Creator & Story: Chris Gorak
Script: Pierluigi Cothran
Artist: Damian Couceiro
Colors: Juan Manuel Tumburús
Letterer: Johnny Lowe
Cover A: Erik Jones
Cover B: Chris Brunner (Colors: Rico Renzi)
Editor: Bryce Carlson
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
“After cheating death, Nola Thomas wakes up alone in a deserted New Orleans hospital. Bruised, broken, and badly burned, she emerges from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with one thing on her mind… revenge.”
I jumped on the opportunity to review NOLA #1, a new comic book from Boom! Studios set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, based solely on my interest in the city and its culture, history and residents. The four-part miniseries launched on Wednesday, Nov. 18th of this year.
As the story opens, New Orleans resident Nola Thomas tries to make her way through what is left of her city in the wake of the horrific natural disaster that destroyed large parts of New Orleans. As the promotional description for NOLA #1 (see above) asserts, Nola’s present-day story is one of revenge, although on whom and for what reason remain a mystery. NOLA #1 establishes the series’s protagonist as a strong, determined woman who is in charge of her sexuality and her hand-to-hand combat skills, a nice change for female readers disillusioned with the medium’s obsession with male heroes and borderline pornographically drawn female characters.
The series’s creator, Chris Gorak, offers readers an interesting character with a great deal of potential, but the decision to name her “Nola Thomas” seems a bit heavy handed given the widespread use of “Nola” as an abbreviation for “New Orleans, LA” (and yes, I understand that was probably the point of the name choice, I just don’t agree that it was a good one). The question that plagued me throughout the first issue of NOLA was whether Gorak’s series is about Nola the character or “Nola” the city. Is the intent behind the series to educate while entertaining, making both Nola Thomas and New Orleans the main subject matter, or does the series setting merely exploit the attention that the city of New Orleans garnered since 2006 in order to sell more comics? According to Boom! Studios’s Managing Editor Matt Gagnon, “NOLA takes the revenge/crime story to a complex setting, amongst a national disaster, where crime and poverty reached a fever pitch. Combine one of the most culturally rich environments on the planet with a tragedy of biblical proportions, and a passionate anti-hero with a righteous mission and you get NOLA.” Gagnon’s statements lead me to believe that the series does plan to explore the status of the city of New Orleans in greater detail in the next three issues.
Regardless, NOLA #1 revolves around Nola Thomas and her quest for revenge. As NOLA #1 follows Nola’s current-day efforts to reach this goal, readers are given glimpses into Nola’s life before hurricane Katrina. Despite her impressive performance against some police officers in present-day, hurricane ravaged New Orleans, Nola’s life before the storm appears as average as any other. Nola has lunch with friends and family at a café, spends time with her somewhat questionable boyfriend, and carries on with other day-to-day activities. Despite this inclusion, NOLA #1 doesn’t provide a great deal of background information on the series’s antihero, a minor problem that may or may not be rectified as the story progresses. The only other detail that will make or break the series for readers is its illustration style. Damian Couceiro’s style gives the characters a more fluid look than many mainstream comic book series opt to use. The end result is that characters’ appearances fluctuate a bit from panel to panel and page to page. For readers like me, this illustration style isn’t a problem, but for those readers more focused on the way that the characters’ expressions convey emotion it may pose a greater threat to overall satisfaction with the series.
NOLA #1 is available for purchase through Boom! Studios’s official web site, and details about the series’s second issue, NOLA #2 may be found there as well.
Rating: 2.5 / 5 Stars