Indie Comics Spotlight-Forbidden Love,Translucid #1 and Heads #1
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
“I must take what little time I have to tell you…”
Love is a special thing. Forbidden love is a trifling thing for some. And murder is a dangerous thing. All that and more took place in the Wild West, which makes Forbidden Love something of art imitating life. The short is written by Jesse Young, illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov and lettered by Thomas Mauer.
The old west was a pretty tough time for anyone to live. One man learns that firsthand, as he’s wrongly convicted of murder in that setting. He writes a letter to his love, revealing that there’s a lot more to the night in question than just a wrongfully accused man.
Forbidden Love opens with a pretty dramatic scene, dropping the reader somewhat at the end of the tale. Young purposefully remains relatively light on the dialogue, instead allowing the panels to carry the emotional heft of the story. It’s a fairly familiar story, but Young’s approach makes it feel slightly less conventional than what most readers will likely be familiar with. At first glance, it may feel like just another western, but there are many different themes layered within, such as innocence, perceived guilt and, well, forbidden love. The book feels pretty gritty when it’s all said and done, while somehow managing to feel romantic in some way.
Trakhanov’s art is very pallid in a way. It’s full of pretty morose colors in blues and oranges, which makes the atmosphere feel somewhat morbid. There are certain panels where certain characters relevant to that part of the story are called out via outlines of their faces, which work to pretty great effect. He also does a great job depicting the crime that the man is on trial for, offering up a scene vague enough where even the reader isn’t sure if the man on trial actually committed the crime.
Forbidden Love is actually a pretty deep comic when it’s all said and done. Young’s story is very powerful, deceptively packing an emotional punch within a western trial of a seemingly innocent man. Trakhanov’s illustrations are a very appropriate match for the writing, conveying the eeriness of the story. One of the predominant themes in many forms of literature is love and Forbidden Love offers it in a rather intriguing way. If there’s one complaint it’s that the book is a little short, but honestly, the length feels really appropriate considering the content. Making it longer is slightly selfish, in that as a reader you just want more of this great world.
“There have been accusations he’s fallen short while I’ve been away. This city cannot function with a lost hero.”
Heroes and villains offer timeless struggles, both physically and mentally. How does a hero cope with the potential death of his nemesis? BOOM! Studios offers such a tale in Translucid #1. The issue is written by Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez and illustrated by Daniel Bayliss.
The Horse has been the arch-enemy of The Navigator for years. But The Horse feels The Navigator’s moral compass slipping, and even a villain can’t let that happen. The Horse decides to get a closer look into The Navigator’s past that he’s buried deep in his subconscious and find out what drives a person to make the right choice and what propels someone to make a selfish one. Thus begins an exploration of why a young man would take the mantle of a superhero.
The premise behind Translucid #1 seems pretty basic on its surface, but Echert and Sanchez attempt to infuse headier themes than just good versus evil. The story plays out as an elaborate scheme to elicit a response from a character and both the Navigator and the Horse are two sides of the same coin. Echert and Sanchez draw largely upon the relationship between Batman and the Joker, as the two perform an eternal waltz pitting order against chaos. Navigator is clearly inspired by Batman, while the Horse offers a personality that’s a little more organized than that of the Joker, but equally as unhinged. There are some other scenes interspersed throughout that seem to offer a fourth wall aspect to the book and could prove to be more intriguing as the series progresses.
Bayliss’ illustrations are rather beautiful in a deranged sort of way. The Horse comes across as calculated and brutally efficient, while Navigator’s blanket heroism and naive appreciation of good is evidenced by heroic stances. The color palette is a little on the bright side as well; a choice that actually enhances the effect of the character interactions and doesn’t undermine the rather dramatic nature. Cityscapes are rather lush and give the reader a true sense of the world the Navigator struggles to protect. Panel layouts are pretty standard, yet there’s a particularly close set of panels that really offer a great perspective of certain aspects of the city.
Translucid #1 attempts to subvert many familiar superhero notions by offering a deconstruction of that hero’s relationship with the villain. Echert and Sanchez make that feel slightly fresher by giving the reader something slightly realistic that they can hold onto. Bayliss demonstrates a great command of settings and character illustrations, excelling with masks and non-human faces. Translucid #1 offers an intriguing premise that could lead to some philosophical themes in future issues that take new perspectives on what it means to be a superhero and a supervillain. Everything’s not as simple as monologues and epic battles.
Translucid #1 is available in stores now.
“Well that got a little bit intense.”
Ever find yourself in a new city with people giving you odd looks and a bag full of something that needs delivering? Fortunately for you, you’re probably not symbolized by a simple color, like Yellow in Heads #1. The book is written and illustrated by Nicholas Gilligan Williams.
Yellow is a man with an important package and a new city to navigate his way through. He’s got a friend there named Blue, who just so happens to be dating Pink. Meanwhile, Red wants what Yellow has and will go to great lengths to get it. There’s a lot of people and places aiming to ruin a man’s day.
Yellow is characterized as someone who is a stranger in an even stranger place. Williams navigates him through the dangerous streets of the new city, seeking to deliver a mysterious package that is set against a larger backdrop. Apparently there’s a killer on the loose, which seems to frame the entire story, but little more is revealed other than a few pages at the beginning. The remainder of the book focuses on Yellow discovering things about the city, mostly surrounding the harsh environment and citizens. Williams brings the character along with Yellow, exposing both to the same dangers at the same time.
Illustrations pop off the page, courtesy of Williams’ talent. The city is illustrated with vague detail and in green, while each of the characters are colored with their respective namesakes. Those character models are slight exaggerations of traditional models, even showing some graffiti influences at points. The different characters also evidence a wide range of appearances, giving the reader greater insights into the depraved city the colors inhabit. There’s a good mix of panel layouts, even if they’re largely of the rectangle and square varieties.
Heads #1 is a pretty trippy book. There’s a lot going on in the first issue, even if it feels like not really a lot of stuff happens. It does showcase a lot of universe building and that Williams has something in mind, even leaving the contents of the bag a mystery to the reader. The illustrations are the strong point of the book for sure, which doesn’t detract from the story at all, but are simply very fascinating. Additionally, there are some subtle touches throughout that really make the book feel like something solid is brewing. Heads #1 is interesting and has a unique look that should make it stand out and is worth checking out.
Heads #1 is available now via Comixology.