Review: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #1-8 (SBI Press)

Gryffen is the fantastic new comic from the creators of Heavenly Blues, and it starts as it means to go on, with a frenetic and outrageous outburst from it’s main character! Following a daring prison escape the story it barely lets up for the following 8 issues that have since been released, as Captain Lyla Gryffen lives up to the title of Galaxy’s Most Wanted!

Publisher: SBI Press
Writer: Ben Kahn
Artist: Bruni Hildalgo
Price: £0.69 per issue from ComiXology

Captain Lyla Griffen is a former leading light in ‘The Reach’ (your all-too familiar intergalactic evil empire), however Lyla has disappeared for several years, turned on their crew, and now returned as a gender queer renegade with a newly discovered attitude and unpredictable grasp on reality and social norms. The comic series begins with Lyla on trial for desertion, and the first issue ends up with them staging a daring prison break, taking a guard hostage (who also happens to be Telika, a member of a galactic resistance), and freeing the galaxy’s smartest man, Elliot Dao (who they definitely want to hook up with). With the misfit crew assembled, they set about taking down the Reach, all the while being pursued by Lyla’s former partner Admiral Hunter.

While the concept may be an all too familiar one (renegade hero with misfit crew vs evil empire), Kahn and Hiladglo inject the comic with a high dose of anarchic energy and salty language to give this sci-fi space adventure a much needed edge. It’s loud, it’s brash,, it’s violent and it’s sweary – and it’s all the better for it!

Told in a series of half-sized issues (14 pages), Kahn and Hidalgo have a limited space to work in and so make the most of it with a series of outrageous adventures which are powered along by their over the top hero. The pace is frenetic and the action only rarely pauses for a beat, with Gryffen having the unpredictable nature of a volatile chemical which is liable to explode at any minute. Gryffen is like a hybrid of Harley Quinn, Tank Girl and Lobo, and mixes an unpredictable nature with a strong DILLIGAF streak that makes them a really compelling and unconventional lead. Albeit one who is quite obnoxious at times. Meanwhile the supporting cast are equally strong, especially the idealistic Telika and dry as a bone Elliot Dao – who sometimes helps out with ‘some science’ and other times just let Lyla get out of her own mess!

While the first issue of Gryffen may start with a bang, it does feels a bit like you are starting with issue #2 as it dives straight into the action with only a simple catch up card to get you up to speed. However, when the story begin to take shape you can see that this was an intentional tactic because to expand too much on the back story at the beginning would slow down the frenetic pace of the story telling, and would diminish the big reveals in the long run. Instead, we get an outrageous court room scene and prison escape which are all the more exciting because of Lyla’s anarchic attitude and her tendency to lie to get their own way.

The visuals on the book manage to capture the raw energy and attitude of the lead character perfectly. Having earned their stripes together on Heavenly Blues and also Shaman, Kahn and Hidalgo are a fantastic pairing, and Bruno’s artwork has a raw energy to it that perfectly captures the anarchic spirit of Lyla. While it is not quite as polished as Heavenly Blues, it manages to capture that frenetic nature of the series and it retains that lo-fi spirit which you need in a book with this much attitude. It does have some fantastic space visuals in though, and the character designs manage to balance familiarity without being too derivative, and originality in equal measure.

With issue #9 of 12 about to be released, now is there perfect time to get into Gryffen – especially as it is just £0.69 per issue on ComiXology!. If you liked comics like COPRA or Space Bandits, for their outrageous antics and chaotic nature then you will love Gryffen. While it may be a bit too rough and ready for some, if you like a book which is packed with plenty of attitude then you need to add this to your most wanted list!