I read this first issue last night and really enjoyed it.
I think it’s true what Chris says about this feeling like a writer with a younger voice than you’d usually expect from Azzarello - I often find his work a little overly structured and preoccupied with form, whereas this felt a little lighter and looser, for the better.
I really like the early scenes that set up the lead character and the interactions that lead up to the issue’s ending. Establishing character and making readers buy into a relationship as genuine takes a certain amount of work, and this issue pulls it off well, while at the same time peppering lots of intriguing little magical moments throughout the issue.
Talking of which, I like the way magic is handled here - rather than it being a showy or dynamic approach, it’s all in suggestion and subtle ‘pushes’, and it makes it feel a little easier to accept without question.
The artwork plays a big part in this - much of the issue is about fairly low-key human interactions, so it’s important that Llovet gets the body language and facial expressions right, and she’s obviously very good at it.
A lot of the relationship-building here is also conveyed through glances or gestures and isn’t spelled out in the dialogue, and you still get the sense of the attraction and rising sexual tension between the characters.
And yes, that extends to the sex. I thought this element was a little more successful than Chris did - it’s maybe nothing too surprising or unconventional as these things go (until that weird last page, anyway), but I think it builds off the strength of the relationship established earlier in the issue, and that helps to give it an erotic charge that it might lack if you just read the sex scene on its own without that context.
It’s hardly the first story to explore the link between sex and magic but I think that by tying it to characters that we already care about, making the sex and the magic feel fairly grounded and ‘real’, and by lacing the book with humour (sometimes silly pop-culture stuff, sometimes darker humour like seeing the suicide attempt on the TV in the background before the characters notice it), it makes it an enjoyable read.
That cliffhanger changes things quite a bit, though, and I can’t honestly say where I expect the book to go from there.