Trees, Volume One

Much like serialized television, it's dangerous to judge an ongoing comic book by a handful of issues when future installments may shed new light on past creative choices. The first trade paperback for Warren Ellis' new comic series, Trees, collects the initial eight issues but still may only hint at the story's roots below the surface. Readers are introduced to a delightfully diverse and well-rounded cast of characters, all affected by the arrival and landing of gigantic tree-like structures that pepper the planet then remain dormant. Out of this dormancy, Ellis creates a world reacting to the unknown and in doing so he dives deep into people's fears and hopes as each character reacts to the “trees” on a personal level. Even Jason Howard's artwork seems to dissolve away from the panels' focus, emphasizing the self-centeredness of many of the characters. While the action is slow to rev up—giving the collection a begrudging pace—there's a sense that Ellis is building a framework of tension, letting the lid on the pot clang around as it threatens to boil over. If Trees succeeds in anything, it's planting page-turning seeds of interest in the reader, nurturing the desire to see what happens next. What more can you ask of a serialized story?