The shorthand on Wyrd is to imagine John Constantine as Captain America. Instead of the costumed patriot, the guy who’ll take on single handed US government missions is a surly, sociopathic bastard in a rumpled coat and diamond patterned jumper. He’s man at C&A circa 1980. Pitor Wyrd doesn’t have to be nice, so he isn’t, but he gets things done.

So does Curt Pires. What at first seems a standard exercise in wish-fulfilment transposition with an extra dose of potty mouth turns out to have some depth, as Pires goes beyond the missions to explore what Wyrd is, jumping back to the past and across the globe, and into the future. Not everything is laid out in fine detail, but it doesn’t have to be as long as we grasp the circumstances. However, as this is only the first book of a series, it’s likely that greater explanation is due, as it’s clear there’s a much bigger picture.

Along the way Pires takes a skewed look at Superboy, throws in rumours about then British Prime Minister David Cameron, and develops a fine line in deceit, manipulation and outright lies. He has a great way with understated dialogue. A battered, naked man walks into a truckers diner to be told by the middle-aged waitress “You look like you’ve had a bit of a day Mister, if you don’t mind me saying”. Pires also knows when to keep quiet and let Antonio Fuso tell the story, not a common trait among writers.

When it comes to drawing Wyrd and his world, Fuso leaps between scratchy, distorted photo realism and sparse, barren nature. The right hand sample page can’t have taken him more than five minutes to draw, but in context it’s fantastically effective storytelling, everything it needs to be. He covers Wyrd’s face in shadow a lot, but when showing it fully, Fuso creates an attitude from so few lines.

Four chapters provide the main feature, but Pires is an unfaithful collaborator and supplies back-up strips in the company of other artists, and even a co-writer in Rockwell White. Three smart vignettes build on Wyrd and his world. It’s a world waiting to have more bolted on, and after this strong start Wyrd’s continuation is one to anticipate.