To celebrate Madefire’s inclusion in Apple’s iPad mini presentation this week, we thought we’d round up the latest batch of titles from the current top dog in digital comics. Regular readers will know we’re big fans of their app and following on from the initial prologue releases Liam Sharp and company have been steadily unleashing a menagerie of fantastic characters and new titles – from robot men, vampire girls and villainous kidnapper who steal children across time!
Houses of the Holy prologue by Mike Carey and David Kendall
Houses of the Holy was one of the preview titles in the Madefire app launch. At the time it consisted of little more than a moving cover and it’s haunting painted image appeared frozen in time.
This turns out to be a very apt description. The story is set in 1930s Berlin. The team go to great lengths reminding the viewer of the Nazi atrocities and there is a manic soundtrack consisting of Hitler’s speeches and manic crowds. We follow Reinhart Fohl, a clerk in Goebbels’ propaganda ministry and he’s tracking a small romany girl across the shadowy city. Painted panels slide across the screen, gracefully changing from widescreen city panels to close facial shots. We’re led to believe that he’s a bit more of a monster than most Nazis and the story insinuates that paedophilia is among his worst vices. He follows the girl into a dark building (did I mention this book was dark?) and here the narrative changes it’s focus.
We are now following the killers narrative and are invited to share in the bloodlust. This is where the story takes a sharp twist and Fohl the predator becomes the prey. For the girl is actually a vampire!
Red tendrils hang from the ceiling (where the girl is hiding) and snare Herr Fohl. We are then treated to a John Carpenter-esque finale. The artwork is breathtaking as Fohls features become withdrawn as the monster literally sucks the life out of it’s victim. There then follows a schizophrenic conversation between the girl and her parasite and we quickly realize that there is an internal struggle for supremacy going on! This battle from within will hopefully be as much a part of the book as the real-life Nazi backstory and we can’t wait for the first proper issue!
Engine #1&2 by Liam Sharp, Christina McCormack, Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton
There is a very graphical style to the artwork in this book and the watery colouring evokes Soviet communist posters. Red and yellow hues dominate every panel and the artists borrow heavily from epic movies such as Metropolis. ‘The Engine’s’ soundscapes echo with dripping water and are layered with shouting and pounding russian military anthems.
Story wise this title is something of a slow-burner. The story is set underground in a dark, despairing Siberian salt mine. We are introduced to all the characters from the workers, the masters who control them on the surface and where they came from. The narrator recalls the creation of huge Russian robotic men. They were made in the 1930s to work alongside their comrades and to inspire them. These robotic men were noble but inefficient and ultimately fazed out. The last remaining robot just happens to be working alongside the men. He is silent, hard-working and affectionately known as ‘The Engine’. At the end of episode two, the old mine collapses and, well, we have to wait for the next instalment.
The Irons: Hybrids #1 by Haden Blackman and Gary Erskine
Hybrids looks more like a traditional comic and so is slightly different from Madefire’s other books. This has a lot to do with Gary Erskine’s artwork (and personally I’ve never been a fan – there’s something about his faces) than anything else, but it’s easier on the eye than Liam Sharp’s multi-medium Captain Stone. Every panel is animated to a very high standard and there is a huge amount of movement and detail.
The story opens with a victim of a serial killer (the highjacker) falling from a great height and this fall is split over three big panels. You come to a stop right in the heart of rush hour. Amazing crowd soundscapes fill your ears and the reader is introduced to a mother and daughter called Muni. Rather than getting on a tube, bus or train, residents of ‘The Irons’ use a teleport system for transportation. These teleports enable you to travel halfway round the planet in seconds. As the mother helps Muni through, she is snatched away. There is a fantastic series of panels which use scale to describe just how lost the mother feels. This ends with an epic birds eye view with residents looking like ants.
A haunting piano starts playing as Muni realises she’s not where she should be. She is introduced to a swollen-faced Mr. Horn (in a very extreme close-up) and informed he will be her companion! Has she been taken by the Highjacker? Guess we’ll have to wait and see what the guys at Madefire have in store. They’re certainly getting very good at showing just enough to have you wanting more – I’ll certainly be back!