I'd been excited to read The Originals (by Dave Gibbons) for about a year. I think Gibbons's art is some of the best in the medium for about a dozen reasons, and I can't really think of a project he's worked on that I haven't liked. But at the same time, I'd never read anything that he had written, so reading this was a real pleasure.
The Originals is a gang. The Dirts are another gang. They don't like each other. (See lower panel, above.) Gibbons takes this concept, seen everywhere from Grease to Battlestar Galactica and gives it his own flair. Sometime in the future, culture gets very nostalgic but technology keeps rolling, creating a visually potent atmosphere that Gibbons's rich use of detail and angle translates wonderfully. It's also worth mentioning here that Gibbons is a master panel-maker. The gutterwork (?) in this book is brilliant. It's aesthetically appealing and at the same time works seamlessly with the story. His long career at the drawing board shows in the best way here, just in the story progression.
As far as plot goes, I thought the story ended a little abruptly, and a little pessimistically. But the longer I sat and thought about it, the more I became (and remain) convinced that Gibbons knew exactly what he wanted to do, and did exactly that. The story's themes are punctuated at the ending, in the final line, in such a way as to sort of slap you across the face with wisdom. I wrote yesterday that I thought the end of The Holy Mountain betrayed the reader because it offered a watered-down, simplistic moral at the end of a movie that had more potential than that (or seemed to). The Originals doesn't tell you a damn thing: it shows the ending, it delivers the final line and, if you were involved in the story and took a liking to any of the characters, you're sort of struck with the ultimate tragedy of the story all at once, as the covers close.
At least that's how it was for me. And that feeling, where the awesomeness of a story sort of balloons up for a few hours or days after you've finished reading it--that's the best. Gibbons nailed it.
If I'm going to be completely honest with myself, I think I was expecting a Moore story, and that's not what I got. But, having realized that, the story was all the better, since reading something entirely Gibbons finally, I feel like I understand him and his art a lot better. I'd really recommend buying this as early as possible. It's a quick read (maybe 3 hours at most), but it's one of those great stories that's good to loan a friend, especially if they haven't read comics before.