Pullbox Reviews Cutting Edge: Siren’s Song #1- The best of the best take on a globe trotting challenge

Brought together by a clandestine corporation, the world’s greatest minds are set a challenge of epic proportions: the dodecathlon. Unlikely alliances are made in order to fulfill the quest and uncover the mysterious truth behind it all. But as the conspiracy is unveiled, how many will survive…?

“They are the best of humanity, they are the avant-garde, they are the Cutting Edge!

If you were at the top of your game, the absolute best there is at what you do, where else would you look for a challenge? How far would you go & what would you risk to test yourself, to see what your skills could achieve out in the world? These are the questions brought up by Leviathan, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, and with them a group of uniquely skilled individuals are brought together for a Herculean series of tests.

No lie, full disclosure… I didn’t have a clue what was going on in this book when I cracked my review copy open, but the cover art really caught my attention and pulled me in with its tease of action to come. After reading the first issue of Cutting Edge, coming in at a respectable 48 pages, I still can’t say that I know what I’m expecting. What I do know is that I really want to find out.

Originally published by Delcourt in France of 2013, Cutting Edge is just now making its way to us by way of Titan Comics and will be hitting local shops on November 11th seven years later! Given that writer Francesco Dimitri is Italian born, living in London, and has been published in several languages (his latest novel is called The Book of Hidden Things) it’s kind of amazing that this one took as long as it did to reach us in the U.S.

Dimitri doesn’t bother with easily identified comic book tropes, taking a much more meandering approach in his storytelling. That is, until the meandering stops and the excrement hits the fan. Cutting Edge follows a group of people, all elite in their respective areas, as they’re handed the first in a series of challenges. Their goal is, on the surface, to find and help an aging jazz musician named Carlos Hernandez. They travel first to Barcelona to meet Carlos’s brother Ernesto, who tells them that Carlos is “looking” for (composing) the perfect serenade. From there the team goes on to Sorrento, Italy where the trail finds them on a secluded beach with a lone guitarist, playing to the moonlit water.

And here’s where it gets interesting. I mean, the story leading up to this point is great, introducing readers to the main players and giving some insights into their personal motivations in taking up Leviathan’s challenge. But it’s at this point in the story that, with a sharp turn and a pump on the gas, Dimitri’s narrative kicks into gear. The sudden change in pacing paired with a bit of a spin into the world’s seedy underbelly as the stakes are raised, is only the first directional shift in the issue… Guess it’s kind of a good thing that it went longer than the average 24 pages for a comic.

So we’ve talked about Francesco Dimitri’s brand of writing, based here in an odd reality of the filthy rich and seekers of new challenges. Now we’re gonna get to the eye candy… and without a doubt, Mario Alberti’s work qualifies on that point. Very reminiscent of Milo Minara, Alberti’s illustrations have a distinctively European flair. Having done work with American publishers (covers for DC & runs featuring Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, & X-Men for Marvel), Alberti is no newcomer to comicbook illustrations and in this case is inseparable from the narrative in terms of storytelling. His work is highlighted by gorgeous detail and great character studies. At no time are the people in Cutting Edge just standing around… not even when they’re just standing around. There’s a given scene where millionaire heiress Stella Del Giglio- a conflicting figure of intellect, controversy, & abject boredom throughout- is “taking a nap”. I say that with “sarcastic quotes” because I don’t know how else to quantify this series of panels… you rarely see someone depicted actively lounging in a comic before. It’s a fantastic example- one of the many in this issue- of how an artist can tell as much about a character as pages full of dialogue, through facial expression, & posture, even/especially in the quiet moments.

What we have here is a well-balanced, beautifully timed narrative, backed up by some hands down gorgeous artwork, in a story that skirts a couple different genres without ever fully diving into any. If this were a straight up character study about a bunch of genius level, field specific experts joining forces to solve mysteries, I’d be all-in (I loved the television series Scorpion). But there are hints & glimpses of layers still hiding beneath it all, plenty of grist for the most demanding of readers to chew on.

Final Score: 12/13

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