An unexpected gem.
Had it not been for Free Comic Book Day I would likely never have heard of this series. Anti is written by Peter Calloway with art by Daniel Hillyard, both of whom are relative rookies to the comic industry. Gale Anne Hurd, famous for her involvement in the Terminator and Aliens series is listed as a producer, but I haven't a clue what that could possibly mean in the realm of comics. My guess is that she gave permission for her name to be added in hopes of boosting sales. Hopefully that ends up working because Anti is off to an exhilarating start.
Anti is an ambitious tale of a demon war taking place on earth. As an amateur writer I had a similar idea which I will probably now scrap because it has been so well done here. The two main characters are Jordan, a demon hunter, and a boy with unidentified godlike powers by the name of Zachary. The entire issue is accompanied by dialogue from a televangelist preacher declaring a soon coming rapture. Solicits seem to reveal that Zachary might become some Christ-like savior, while the title Anti leads me to question whether or not he might actually unknowingly be the Anti-Christ. Either way this series is sure to upset some religious readers and be an intriguing plot twisting ride for the rest of us.
And make no mistake, this is definitely a violent action story filled with guns and explosions; which seems to be what publisher 12-Gauge Comics releases exclusively. At least in the case of Anti though, there is a much smarter story at work than one would expect from such a book. Calloway, who has written for television and who seems to have had a brief stint on Gotham City Sirens at DC Comics is an excellent young writer. Although the book takes only a few pages to introduce its characters before jumping headfirst into gun-slinging and plot development, Jordan and Zachary already feel like living breathing people with their own doubts and eccentricities. The tone set is effectively dark, but this darkness does not sacrifice the fun of the book. It's not darkness for darkness sake, which has too frequently been a comic book trope since the 1980's.
As far as I can tell, Hillyard is a complete rookie (he doesn't even have a comicvine wiki entry yet). This is not at all evident in his art. He certainly has room for improvement (there are a couple of awkward frames where characters appear to be amputees and a few of his action scenes are hard to follow chronologically), but any gripes about his abilities are minor ones. His attention to detail is meticulous and his ability to show emotion in the characters he draws is easily relatable. The style is sometimes reminiscent of Koi Pham and sometimes of Leinil Yu. Charlie Kirchoff on colors does a good job of expressing light and shadows.
All the talent on this book seems headed for greatness, even if this book falls into obscurity, their talents will likely bring them on to bigger name projects. In any event I will continue reading this series and try to follow their careers. It's only a first issue but it is off to a much stronger start than most books, even many of the best books, usually are at this early stage. The first issue is only one dollar, so I suggest giving it a try.