Tim Gibson’s Moth City gets its first spin off this week in the form of Moth City Preludes: The Reservoir – an origin story for the maniacal Governor McCaw that is pitched as a western in black, white and blood. But can the evil Governor sustain the story on his own? Especially in a black and white book with no dialogue?!
Spins offs are a tricky business. Expanding popular characters away from their source material can either lay bare their inherent weaknesses, or can help them expand out into greatness. Fortunately for Tim Gibson’s first Moth City Prelude: The Reservoir it is very definitely the latter as the power crazed Governor McCaw from is given a western style origin story which helps to brilliantly flesh out this already complex character, while also expanding the Moth City universe beyond the titular island.
For this origin story which sees us explore McCaw’s early in the Wild West, Gibson has very smartly shifted from the pulp stylings of Moth City to a looser more sketchbook feel for The Reservoir. This works both as a way to separate us from the original Moth City series, but also serves to remind us this is a flashback and not part of the main story. If ever there was a comic book equivalent of wobbly lines on screen and a plinky harp to denote a flashback then this is it.
Gibson further develops his flashback idea by telling the story entirely in voiceover (no dialogue) as if we are looking back with McCaw or reading his diary. This helps give the book a very different feel, with it reading almost like a prose novel instead of a comic, and evoked in us the bleak westerns of Cormac McCarthy, which is no mean company to be in.
Unfortunately due to this altered format we lose the sophisticated Guided View flourishes that we normally associate with Moth City. Gibson is one of the true masters of this new art form and although it makes perfect sense to not include any gimmickry for this story, it is a shame to not have it.
Admittedly this is a bit like complaining your diamond shoes are too tight, because The Reservoir is still an outstanding piece of storytelling from one of the masters of digital comics. If you’re a fan of the series already then its the perfect addition to an already superb series. However if you’ve never tried Moth City before then this is also a great start point for fans looking to get into the series.
“Tim Gibson’s Moth City universe expands beyond the island with this superb origin story for the evil Governor McCaw. By mixing black and white artwork, with a looser style and no dialogue, Gibson creates a truly masterful spin-off to what was already one of the best digital comics around!”