Dealing with the passing of a loved one takes time, and on the anniversary of the death of his mother, Milt just wants to play the night away with his band in Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1. Too bad about those aliens though.
Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1
V. Gagnon (artist), Joamette Gill, (letterer), Greg Gustin (writer), Michael Kennedy (artist and letterer)
April 8, 2020
I am a sucker for quiet pages. For me, this means panels where the writer foregoes words and lets the artist truly bring the story to life. This first issue welcomes the reader to a warm, loving morning routine, taking its very sweetest time to introduce us to a loving couple with one partner rising with the sun to start his day. The rhythm is familiar to any one of us, including that all-important time spent with the coffee machine, and while it seems mundane, lulling the reader into that sense of warmth and routine is instrumental in hammering home what happens on the next few pages as the couple discovers that their lives as marina owners have inexplicably and unbelievably changed due to all the water at the wharf vanishing.
Similar pacing is used when the focus switches to Milt, the main character. He too is beginning his unassuming morning routine but, without knowing about the wharf, this is already an extremely difficult day for him. Fortunately, he has a lot of loving support, which we learn through some text messages and phone calls. And he’s also got something to look forward to what with his band playing at The Bilge that night and the radio even featuring one of their tunes on Milt’s morning drive. Still, the creative team packs on the emotion with a few simple panels that reveal just how difficult it is to struggle with the grief of loss, no matter how many positive things surround you. Writer Greg Gustin draws on his own experience with the loss of his mother to cancer, lending weight to that raw pain that can feel like it will never dull or go away.
But this isn’t a story meant to drag you down, even as it explores Milt’s journey with his grief. You can’t have a titular band dressed in full cosmic ’80s music regalia and tentacles on the cover, plus the promise of a badass alien-busting android, without offering lots of fun too. After Milt’s shift at the cubicle is over, and after some time spent back at the Madre Bay Harbor with the marina owners, Bergie and Carl, dealing with a slimy councilman, we get to see Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments in action. V. Gagnon’s colours shift from soft, warm, muted tones to the rich and brilliant blues and fuchsias that the bands at The Bilge deserve as the music and the spotlights dazzle the crowd. The unique character designs with their distinctively angular facial features and body diversity are amplified by a thousand with the addition of funky costumes and high-energy poses, promising much more when it comes to the actual alien showdown.
No story featuring a band and music would be right without an accompanying soundtrack, and I always appreciate discovering bonus material that gives insight into the creative process behind a book. You can get a feel for Dr. Love Wave and the Experiment’s vibe with a playlist available on Spotify:
Also included in the first issue is a backstory on the secret origin of “Dr. Love Wave” that pays homage to the silver age of comics.
This issue of Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments is the result of a successful Kickstarter, with a new Kickstarter on the way for issue two of five where we’ll perhaps discover MIKA’s secret and maybe even get to some alien butt-kicking. But I’m not opposed to some more of that slow burn pacing with the promise of a killer big finish.