Comics can take us anywhere. From the centre of this planet to the furthest star, from the beginning of time to another dimension entirely. The sky’s the limit when all you need is an imagination and a pen (and maybe a good writer/artist/letterer etc to boot). Unfortunately, in the real world there are always limits, even to a comic book addict’s time. Therefore, James Blundell rounds up a trio of comics that takes to worlds new and old; The Tessellation, Band of Warriors and Sagas of the Shield Maiden.
The Tessellation #1 from Martian Lit tells the story of James Beach, or rather several of him. Focusing on Four James Beech’s across the multiverse, when one of these many lives is given the opportunity to encounter the others, how will this impact them and the multiverse at large?
Writer Mike Phillips has created an intriguingly cool concept within these pages, a sort of Black Science meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, the execution seems like a mixed bag as, while the ideas and mystery do captivate throughout, the issue felt as though its pacing and progression were hindered by its setup and exposition. That said, Phillips still managed to keep some cards close to his chest as it left questions as to the mechanics of the world, captivating me enough to want to return. I was also left wondering about the fates of the various (remaining) James Beech’s although, I would hope that any future appearances offered a slightly more sympathetic or likable protagonist.
Meanwhile, Hernán González’s art is solid work, if not stand out in any way with both the pencils and Javi Laparra’s colours providing a grounded world to an otherwise extraordinary series of events. By the end, I certainly felt that the Tessellation was a comic brimming with potential. Unfortunately, this first issue left me with more questions than answers after a bumpy start. Still, with its set up out of the way, I’d be hopeful that we’ll be following a captivating story once the whole thing is available.
Set in 1530 B.C, Band of Warriors #1 from Signal Comics follows the story of Minos, King of Knossos in Crete. As he, his family and his people prepare tributes to Poseidon, God of the sea, in order to seek peace both on land and at sea. However, when one of the tributes from the mainland incites rebellion from within and invasion from without, Minos must attempt to flee with his family in the hope that they can later avenge his imminent loss.
I enjoyed Samuel George London’s historical action drama. The dialogue and story behind Band of Warriors imbues a real sense of 300 in terms of it epic-ness and London appears to have done some solid work in terms of research, molding the Greek myths surrounding Minos into a fable which has a more grounded vibe. I found that this first instalment does struggle from the exposition and setup problems inherent in most opening issues, but the narrative was able to move at a steady pace and the final reveal in the last pages had me asking a number of questions as to the future.
Federico Avila Corsini, meanwhile, has also matched London’s writing with some really great artwork. Starting with a tremendously standout and vibrant cover, Corsini seems to have a style perfectly suited for this locale, with the cityscape looking impressive and even the use of shadowing and placement of the sun looking incredible. In fact, everything about these visuals adds to the story’s epic-ness, although its enjoyment is hindered by the odd facial faux pas in close up as well as some more graphic scenes which are also slightly off-putting.
Nonetheless, London and Corsini produced an entertaining and compelling first issue of Band of Warriors, one which has certainly left me intrigued about where this series will go next. Fortunately, this won’t be a long wait with the Kickstarter for Issue 2 just launching on November 1st.
Coming off of the success of Book One, creator Asa Wheatley returns with another party of artistic talent in Sagas of the Shield Maiden Book Two. This new volume continues following the adventures from the life of the titular Norse warrior as the Shield Maiden battles Kings, brigands and (maybe?) thieves all for Love, coin and Honour in three new tales.
As with the first book, Asa Wheatley has again produced a trio of fascinating and captivating stories which continue the prior volumes epic. Once more, Wheatley does away with any linear order, which left me unsure as to which story is ‘canonically’ first (although, again his seemingly historical accuracy could allow the committed to figure it out). However, this did little to stifle my enjoyment as all three tales reinforce the character of the Shield Maiden, both in personality and code, to continue making me see the essence of the Witcher character within.
For the art meanwhile, Wheatley brings on board the quality work of Katie Fleming (and colourist Fabi Marques), Alex Moore and Alex Schlitz respectively. The work of these three creators does give Book two a much more consistent look over the various tales, although I did feel this similarity loses some of the style from book one. However, All three styles look phenomenal (with Alex Schlitz work being the standout in my eyes), with the fighting/battle scenes looking particularly well rendered, all of which is gorgeously packaged under a terrific Erica Henderson cover.
Sagas of the Shield Maiden Book Two continues where it’s first instalment leaves off as a terrific anthology series about the life of an entertainingly complex character. Asa Wheatley and his tribe of artists continue to create exceptional work with this series and I, for one, am already eager to read book three.