Reviews, Comics

Self Help #1 Review: Looks Can Be Deceiving

Check out our in-depth review of Owen King, Jesse Kellerman, and Marianna Ignazzi’s Self Help, one of Image Comics’ promising new series of the year.

Self Help 1 Review Cover
Image: Syzygy Publishing
By: Javier ReyesJun 26, 2024, 9:30 AM

Self Help #1

Self Help 1 Full Cover

Writer: Owen King, Jesse Kellerman

Artist: Marianna Ignazzi

Publisher: Syzygy Publishing

Release Date: June 26, 2024

Page Count: 32

Format: Single-issue

Self Help #1 kickstarts its fun and provocative California noir story with an issue filled with interesting characters and gorgeous art. Even though some aspects of the story are a bit predictable, the comic oozes a distinct charm that’s easy to enjoy.

Have you ever stumbled on a new comic book that caught your attention from reading its solicitation alone? That was how I felt when I first heard about Self Help by Owen King, Jesse Kellerman, and Marianna Ignazzi. Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with the creative team going in, but the comic’s intriguing solicitation and eye-catching previews left me wanting to know more. While California noir is not a genre I typically explore, I’m a sucker for character-driven comics that mix a bit of crime with comedy. After diving into the comic’s first issue, I can safely say that the charming new series delivered much more than I expected. Keep on reading for my full review of Self Help #1! 


Jerry Hauser is just an ordinary man who works as a rideshare driver. However, part of his daily life is having passengers constantly mistake him for the world-famous self-help guru, Darren Hart. But despite having nearly identical looks, their lives and personalities couldn’t be farther apart. As fate would have it, Darren runs into an emergency and gets paired with Jerry as his driver. It’s from their chance meeting that both their lives change forever and the pulpy crime story begins.

Self Help 1 - Darren and Cassandra have a meeting in the bathroomImage: Syzygy Publishing


As I mentioned, Self Help’s solicitation labels the comic series as a “California noir”, hinting at a unique and pulpy drama set in the sunny streets of Los Angeles. But if you were to come into the comic completely blind, you wouldn’t immediately think its story develops into a crime drama from its mundane yet charming intro. Instead of jumping straight into the crime shenanigans, most of the first issue focuses on introducing readers to the main characters’ quirks through snippets of their daily lives. The story shows how Jerry is a bit of a down-on-his-luck deadbeat dad, while Darren is a raging narcissist who knows how to use his words to get what he wants. But as different as they are, Jerry and Darren share the toxic trait of being overly ambitious. Only at the end of the comic does it show what the characters are like when push comes to shove, which leads to the story’s big twist. Even though the twist is a bit predictable, the premise is still compelling because of how the story and characters are set up. Think The Prince and the Pauper but with a modern and twisted spin on it. If anything, the final stretch of Self Help #1 left me excited about what comes next now that the real meat of the story finally begins.

Self Help 1 - Jerry talks to people in his rideshare carImage: Syzygy Publishing

With Self Help being such a character-driven story, the art team does a fantastic job bringing the characters and setting to life. By the first page, you can see how artist Marianna Ignazzi has a flair for illustrating people, as the details she puts into their clothes and faces make everyone look eye-catching. The comic even features plenty of close-up shots of bold facial expressions, making for great bits of subtle visual storytelling. Pair those gorgeous illustrations with Fabiana Mascolo’s coloring and Ian Chalgren’s lettering, then you’ve got an incredibly vibrant-looking comic. A scene in the middle of the comic stood out to me, as it had Darren working his self-help guru magic in front of a stadium filled with people. With unique colors setting the scene’s mood and loud fonts accentuating Darren’s stage presence, that scene has the art team doing what they do best to deliver a great character-defining moment. With this being just the first issue, I’m sure there will be plenty more moments just like that as we get deeper into Jerry’s peculiar story. 

Self Help 1 - Romona introduces herself to JerryImage: Syzygy Publishing

Final Thoughts

Just like the distinct personalities of its main characters, Self Help #1 is a new comic that will take you by surprise. After its solid first issue, the comic has the potential to be a sleeper hit from Image Comics this year. It delivers a great blend of crime, comedy, and suspense, all tied beautifully together by fantastic art. With introductions to the characters and story now out of the way, the series is set to start taking readers on a very wild ride. If you're looking for a refreshing change of pace from the usual comic book fare, Self Help offers plenty of fun when you dive into it.

Why You Should Read Self Help

  • The comic delivers a promising start to what could be a sleeper hit from Image Comics and Syzygy Publishing.
  • This first issue sets up its intriguing premise by introducing the peculiar lives of the main characters. 
  • The art is fun, vibrant, and poppy, perfect for the story’s California setting.
TAGGED: Syzygy Publishing