This month’s small press spotlight sees us take a look at: the new book from Horde Comics, Revenant Part One (with it’s excellent Andy Bloor cover!); alongside the new book Blinker from Madius Comics’ newest addition Rosie Packwood; and a curious animal murder mystery in The Absent Wild.
Revenant Part One (Horde Comics)
The new book from the Horde Comics team of Dave Killian and Andy Conduit-Turner sees us step back in time to Victorian London and the streets of Whitechapel during the time of Jack the Ripper. However there is another killer on the loose and he is racking up as high a body count as the Ripper – except his murders also seem to have a supernatural element to them. The idea of adding a spooky element to such a well known genre as Victorian Murders, but also having a killer running parallels to Jack the Ripper, makes for a really interesting read. It inevitably gets comparisons to books like From Hell, or more recently These Savage Shores, but is in a very different genre to those and so direct comparisons are unfair.
Killian and Conduit-Turner’s story is built on the bones of a really strong central concept with plenty of legs for a long term story. But this first issue seems to focus a bit too much on the enigmatic Lord Carstairs for our liking – rather than the more interesting Sergeant Glum – and it has a very dialogue heavy central section which could have benefitted from being tighter and over fewer pages. In doing this there could have been more room for some action and intrigue to really move the plot along. The artwork from Beth Varni is good and thanks to a slightly anime angularity to the people makes it feel very unique for the genre. However, it lacks a bit of texture and depth, with some of the figures getting a bit lost in the large panels they are given. With a strong intro and intriguing final scenes there are enough questions posed in Remnant to bring us back for a stab in the alleyway, and this is definitely one of those books which is going to be more rewarding once all the pieces are in play.
Blinker (Madius Comics)
After the fantastic success of The Incredible Bun, Rosie Packwood has been recruited as a fully fledged member of the Madius Comics crew. And with that great responsibility comes her full debut book Blinker. Set in a space station somewhere in space, Merrik is a young man on the run from some mysterious overlords. He is helped by the voice of a mysterious benefactor, who we later learn is a ship’s AI called Vitatrix and Merrik is on the run because he has special transportation powers when he blinks. Which he inevitably does. Blinker is a really solid debut which starts off with a lot of action and keeps up a solid pace from the start. The concept is interesting, but the idea of a super powered human escaping from a sinister corporation feels a bit too Firefly-like, to be truly unique. While the concept is solid and there is plenty of action, we could really have done with a bit more depth of character and explanation of the world in which our story is taking place. Especially when it is competing against so many other similar titles which all have something unique and fresh to say. The artwork is also solid, if not spectacular, and although the world is stylish and slick, it just lacks that X factor which Rosie managed to capture so brilliantly in Bun. It could also do with a bit of colour to really liven it up, as it feels more like an entry from Madius’ anthology series Papercuts and Inkstains that has been stretched out to a full issue. However we hope that this is just a bit of first issue teething problems and that subsequent issues can really flesh out and put meat on the bones of this action packed fist issue.
The Absent Wild One: Remnants (BaronBoar/Grifin Nichols)
This is a curious kind of animal whodunnit, as two dogs find a disembowelled deer on their walk and they decide to investigate who or what caused it. This is made possible by the fact the by the two dogs seem to be able to talk to each other – but they aren’t anthropomorphised in the process! This investigation leads to them heading off into the woods at night and encountering some terrifying evil dogs, or perhaps they’re wolves, who chant and curse and make something unpleasant happen by the end. It’s a really interesting book, which has a kind of Watership Down meets Wendigo Wood quality to it. The artwork is a mixed bag, some of it pretty good, and some of it a bit ropey, but it has this originality to it which makes it worth a look at the very least (especially with the bargain price!). It’s also one of those books which could benefit from a good letterer to really make the insides have the kind of slick polish which it has on its very strong cover