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Off The Shelf: Who Is Jake Ellis?

This is a trade you should get. Well, if you like cool, frenetic action and intense adventure, that is.

Who Is Jake Ellis?

A couple weeks ago, I came across Where Is Jake Ellis? #1 in the store, and I thought 'hey, a new Image comic first issue. Gotta give it a shot.' Turns out, it was certainly not the beginning of this story, but I liked the intensity and pacing of the action sequences – of which the issue was mostly comprised – enough to investigate what came before.

That would be Who Is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmonson and Tonči Zonjić, which should be available in your local comic store if it's worth its salt. It collects the five issue run of the first series published in 2011, and from the get-go, you're dropped right in the middle of a pulse-pounding crime flick. Jon Moore has apparently failed his Spanish employers in some capacity, and we mysteriously hear half a conversation coming from him as he makes a breathtaking escape that involves shooting through a bottle of hooch to make it a flamethrower and bounding overboard from the top deck of a yacht – then STOP. REWIND.

The same scene is played again, but we get both ends of the conversation. Apparently, Jon has a voice in his head – a well-dressed, dark-eyed voice named Jake Ellis who acts like his guardian angel, coaching him on how to go about making said breathtaking escape as well as informing him that it needs to be made in the first place. That's an interesting set up, and you know this has to be made into an actual movie at some point.

Jon tries to hide out and lay low in France until the heat blows over, but apparently the stunt got the attention of the people he's been on the run from for years, and when that gets an innocent woman killed for being in the wrong place (his bed) at the wrong time (when guys with guns break in), things get a lot more intense. Underwear escapes, train shenanigans, carjacking CIA vans and catering trucks, identity wrangling, interrogations – you never know when a full-on action sequence will break out, but you can count on one every few pages.

Through all that is the mystery of, well, who is Jake Ellis? Jon thinks he's a voice in his head that came from his time at The Facility, where he was experimented on by torture science jerks. Jake thinks differently – he says he doesn't really have ideas or any sense of who he is, but things changed when he had an actual memory of a woman's face, and his need to explore that has led to some of the poor decisions Jon has made to stir up this hornet's nest. While trying not to spoil anything, it's fair to say that Jake is more than a facet of Jon, and for once, Jon has to try and save Jake's life.

And that leads into the brand new sequel that's starting up. Where Is Jake Ellis?  Jon hasn't had Jake in his head for a while now, but he's still on the run, hiding out in Bangkok, but this time with enough sense to stay alone rather than endanger the lives of women who may find him alluring. Of course, no hiding is good enough with this many trained professionals hunting him down, so he gets worn down enough to try the U.S. Embassy for help – and that is quite a mistake. Jake also finds out an awful truth about his memories, which is quite a bitter pill to swallow.

The art here definitely has some Darwyn Cooke influence, but it's still quite its own thing, and it's fantastic. It's an action-heavy story, but there's never really a sense of confusion as to what's actually happening in each panel – something that can trip up other artists. Edmondson's story never has a chance to get boring. It doesn't seem overly complex, but the mystery is enough to keep us invested in the fates of Jon and Jake.

In short, these books are pretty awesome. Snag 'em when you see 'em.

9.5