While Team comics have been a permanent fixture from the Golden Age to today, it can be said that no one can really relate to them due to the unusual circumstances they find themselves in. However, there is one kind of team that everyone can relate to; family, with the term used to describe everything from the Bat-Family to the JSA and even, most obviously, the Fantastic Four. With this in mind, we check out Source Point Press’ Family focused science/horror/adventure mashup, The Family Graves.
Publisher: Source Point Press
Writer: Timothy Bach
Artist: Brian Atkins (Artist), Brandon Daniels, Diijo Lima, Ander Zarate (Colorists), Marco Della Verde (Letterer)
Price: $2.99/£1.49 per issue at Comixology
The Family Graves tells the story of Phil Graves, a loving husband to Bjanka and a doting father to Nori, Lum and Gordo. Phil is also a talented scientist and just happens to be able to turn into Werewolf. Of course, he is not alone, not when Bjanka can turn into a Medusa, Nori can make anyone do anything she wish, Lum is a fish/boy hybrid and Gordo is a zombie craving brains. In a world where magic and science exist side by side, Phil, Bjanka and their children have turned life into an adventure as they travel galaxies, realities and beyond to understand the scientific and the supernatural. However, when someone from Phil’s past seeks the power of immortality, the Family Graves must put aside all their doubts and differences to save not just this world, but all worlds.
Timothy Bach has written an immensely fun comic series in The Family Graves, with a story and cast which feels like an Incredibles family dynamic with a Munsters-esque power set going on a Fantastic Four adventure. The plot itself feels a little contradictory, coming across very simplistic overall while also being a tad convoluted in places, but this doesn’t dissuade from the enjoyment. This enjoyment is thanks to the tremendously well written characters who all make their mark in this series, feeling very distinctive with their own unique voices as well as their own individual moments to shine.
That said, The Family Graves isn’t perfect, with the Phil/Gustav dynamic having a very Reed/Nathanial Richards dynamic to them (to the point that both characters feel very similar to their analogies) and not feeling quite as unique as the other characters. Also, the backstory surrounding why this world has both magic and science existing in tandem is lacking, making the reasoning behind why the Graves have the powers they have (as well as the species differential of the three children) confusing.
As for the artwork on the title, the artistic team of artist Brian Atkins and inkers Brandon Daniels, Diijo Lima and Ander Zarate have produced a style really in fitting with the fun, outlandish concept, giving the Family Graves a very Marvel house style vibe from the late 90’s. Of course, given the 90’s reputation, you’d be forgiven for thinking the pencils would be off but nothing is further from the truth as Atkins has created some truly great and funky looks for the characters, such as Lum and particularly Bjanka’s Medusa form, which is incredibly striking. In fact, the only misstep of these designs is Phil’s Werewolf form, which doesn’t look as consistent as his family, but this is only a minor quibble. Finally, Marco Della Verde’s lettering is as solid as any other pro in comics (given that the best lettering is never really noticed). However, he deserves a special mention for Gordo’s frequent reference to ‘Brains’, which feels equal parts adorable and hilarious.
The Family Graves is a great blend of family hijinks and light-hearted adventure with gorgeous visuals, perfectly suited to fans of the FF, Challengers of the Unknown, the Simpsons and possibly even the Addams Family. While this title might have its niggles, what it has most is heart and that jumps out of the page in spades, making the work of Bach and Atkins and their team a worthy addition to anyones ‘to check out’ list.