Solitary revolves around a man incarcerated for murder on his way to the electric chair. He is alone, helpless, misunderstood, and about to die at the hands of a prison warden with a personal vendetta against him. Created by Kansas City-based, independent comic writer C.W. Cooke – who has worked at refining Solitary‘s story for years – this first issue is a nice mix of action and intrigue that proves the time it takes to hone one’s craft can really pay off when the final product is released.
Cooke does an excellent job of building suspense throughout the issue. The reason behind the protagonist’s incarceration is only briefly eluded to in the story. By placing the reader in the present events of the prisoner’s life, Cooke establishes an emotional connection to his character. The reader connects to the prisoner’s desperation as he is marched to his death by the warden. More mystery is built into the story as the warden’s motives are only revealed through his sharp, cruel responses to the prisoner’s pleas and a staff member’s disapproving comments.
Cooke does briefly enlighten the reader to a deeper plot line when the story flashes back to a time when the prisoner had a bright future as the patriarch of a superhero family. After a brief conversation highlighting the connection between the prisoner and his son, a horrible event changes the prisoner’s life. This, however, is so brief that the reader is left in the dark to wonder how the accident plays into his current imprisonment.
Continuing to build off of the idea that the prisoner had a life as a superhero, we get a glimpse into that world as he survives the electric chair. This proves to only strengthen the resolve of the vengeful warden as the issue closes with the knowledge that the prisoner will be tortured – mentally and physical – until the warden is pacified. These plot lines twist together to create a story of superheroes, false accusations, revenge, and (possibly) redemption.
Souzamotta is new to the comic industry and his art brings a gritty tone to the comic that perfectly emphasizes the desperation and violence in Cooke’s story. His depictions of the characters do well to portray the emotion that drives them. And while there isn’t much subtext to the dialogue, Souzamotta’s art helps uncover the vengeful nature of the warden, the desperate innocence of the prisoner, the cruelty of the prison staff, and the disapproval of the medical personnel.
Altogether, Cooke’s dialogue and Souzamotta’s art create an interesting, worthwhile issue that builds more than enough suspense to warrant checking out the next issue of Solitary.