Indie Comics Spotlight: Sin, Guardians and Curse

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)


Sin Boldly One-Shot

“I have to tempt you somehow, right?”

If you’ve made it to Hell, something went wrong. If you’re the right-hand of a king, something went right (or wrong). In both cases, you may not necessarily enjoy your lot and life and have agendas of your own. Characters Sinful Suzi and Obsidian Stone are two such individuals who have different things in mind for their roles in life. Sin Boldly One-Shot from Image Comics introduces readers to those stories. Both “Hell is Waiting” and “Burning Roses” are written and illustrated by Joseph Michael Linsner and lettered by Jeff Eckleberry.

In “Hell Is Waiting,” Sinful Suzi learns a lesson about the wages of sin. She’s trapped in hell and wants out, counting a deal made with Satan to do so. What she doesn’t realize though is that she’s been played and she’ll have to find another way out. In “Burning Roses,” Obsidian Stone loses an old friend to betrayal and is tasked with reconciling the wrong. His prize is a medal that is sought by others as well, prompting Obsidian to walk the line between faith and betrayal himself.

Both Sinful Suzi and Obsidian Stone are characters who have been around for a while, yet have never been in a story before. Linsner remedies that with the Sin Boldly One-Shot and both characters have their own personalities. Suzi is seductive and intelligent, ruthlessly flaunting her appearance as a manipulative tactic to get out of Hell (she even makes a tongue in cheek comment about using her beauty for tempting). Obsidian capitalizes on his appearance as well, using his lack of one eye as a means for lulling his opponents into a false sense of security. The two are very similar in that they have grander end-games in mind and are content with using whomever cross their paths as pawns if necessary. The stories are simple enough, but read pretty quickly and rather effortlessly.

Linsner also handles the art duties and he does a great job considering the stories are black and white. Characters show a lot of detail in their faces and features and the demons in hell show a pretty good amount of variety. He manages to make both stories feel as if they actually take place in a modern view of society, with things like waiting in line and unconventional governments on full display. Panel layouts are largely of the rectangular variety, but Linsner does offer a myriad of different ways they’re actually laid out on the page. Both Suzi and Obsidian are illustrated with a lot of attention to detail and in ways that really harness their character and personality.

Sin Boldly One-Shot is a pretty fun book that factors in characters who haven’t really had much of a chance to carry their own stories. Both are very interesting characters who could definitely carry their own books if Linsner was so inclined. He hasn’t lost anything when it comes to art as well, considering both characters are illustrated very well with clean lines and a sheen finish. The black and white is a nice touch and fits the book’s theme as well and here’s hoping that we get more Linsner in the immediate future, beyond just the upcoming Dawn/Vampirella crossover. Sin Boldly One-Shot is a relatively lighthearted take on some otherwise rather dark material.

Sin Boldly One-Shot is in stores now.

Guardians #1

“Say that you’re bored.”

As protectors of a city, being a hero requires a certain amount of investment and desire to save the day. When things are quiet though, they get bored just like the rest of us. Looking for action might not be the best choice, as Element and Chaos learn in Guardians #1. The issue is written by Todd Black and illustrated by Alex Garcia.

A bored Chaos and Element are palling around the rooftops, taking in the sights of a quiet town and waxing poetic on their lots as guardians. Delta City is full of people–some good and some bad—but the two of them are tasked with keeping an eye on all of them. The doldrums of being a superhero waiting for a gig are smashed when they encounter someone who has the power to manipulate the wind and poses quite a challenge. What they don’t realize is that even their capabilities may not be enough to save the day.

First and foremost, Guardians #1 is very much a capes and tights book. The two characters are tasked with being guardians, but Black doesn’t really give them much in the way of relaying that to the reader short of flat out talking about it amongst themselves. The dialogue is a little direct, not really letting the plot unfold without the characters holding the reader’s hand to an extent.Secondly, the issue itself feels a little unevenly paced. Most of the issue just the two of them living a boring day, while the last few pages are them squaring off against a foe. It’s extremely slow moving and then the pace picks up like a freight train, which makes the issue feel a little uneven. The story is interesting though, as the two heroes pose thoughtful, almost existential questions between the two of them about what it takes to be a superhero.

Garcia offers characters who display minimal physiology and kinetic energy, showing just enough to convey to the reader what’s happening. The villain looks the most detailed of all three characters and Garcia chose to focus primarily on the two guardians and the antagonist. This gives the world they live in a sense that it’s rather sparsely populated, which seems a little counterintuitive considering it’s a metropolis. Garcia does some varying things in terms of dropping the characters in the settings; sometimes they look like they’re cardboard cutouts, while other times they look like they’re part of the scenery. There’s an array of panel layouts that keep breaking up the action and keep things moving along.

Guardians #1 is aiming pretty big in terms of the questions it’s raising. Superheroes often have a weight on their shoulders that comes with being a superhero and Black is very intrigued in exploring that idea. Garcia’s art is consistent and has a sheen to it that works, even though the scenery is a little devoid of background activity. Still, it’s an interesting premise that looks to be a capes and tights book but could delve deeper into the superhero psyche. Element and Chaos are a good pair and how they work together will make the read worth reading.

Guardians #1 is in stores today.

Curse #1

“See, Laney, man is the only beast that will do almost anything to preserve the weak.”

Werewolves have a way of being terrifying and brutal, yet they’re still subject to being caught every once and a while. The bigger question is what to do with a werewolf once you’ve caught and trapped it. Chances are, it doesn’t like sandwiches with the crust cut off. Sometimes though, desperate times call for desperate measures and watching those measures unfold in Curse #1 from BOOM! Studios could be fun. The issue is written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel, illustrated by Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Laney Griffin is a man who will do anything to save his son Jaren from leukemia, but the cost of treatment has broken him financially. When he pursues an elusive murderer in the wilderness of his small, rural community, in the hopes of securing a substantial bounty, Laney is confronted with something he never could have expected: a werewolf. The captive lycan, in human form, turns Laney’s life upside-down, forcing him to confront his haunted past and race against the clock—because the wolf will return and Laney’s son’s condition continues to worsen.

While at its heart, Curse #1 is more or less a typical werewolf story, Moreci and Daniel do manage to infuse it with a breath fresh air in Laney. Laney’s son is medically getting worse, forcing Laney into selling all of his belongings and taking out multiple mortgages on his house. That’s enough motivation to inspire Laney to venture out into the wild and track down whatever it is terrorizing the nights, except Laney has no idea what he’s up against. The reader gets a brief introduction to the lycan in question and it’s very clear that Laney fears him and is taking every precaution. The rest of the first issue really gets the reader up to speed on Laney’s past and his current plight, neither of which seem enough to prepare him for his uncertain future.

For a horror book, Rossmo and Lorimer do an admirable job. Shots of the werewolf are pretty fleeting, tapping into the psyche of the reader and leveraging the fear of the unknown. There are a lot of tight close-ups of various features of the characters that are important to them. For instance, there’s a close-up of the werewolf’s mouth, Laney’s college football ring and even a sickly looking Jaren. They’re very powerful images that really define that character and sum them up very succinctly. Some of the shading is a little dark and makes it slightly difficult to discern what’s happening on the pages, but again that plays into the horror feel as well. The book is chock full of varied panel layouts and the characters look believable, with some panels evidencing even a photorealistic quality.

Curse #1 is a werewolf book, but it has the potential to delve a lot deeper than that. Laney is a man possessed with saving son, much in the way that the werewolf is possessed by the moon every thirty days. Their paths are intricately intertwined regardless of how much they may not realize it yet, which offers two rather interesting foils. Moreci and Daniel are very deliberate with their pacing and it almost seems they wanted to get all (or most) of Laney’s backstory out of the way so they could focus on furthering the storyline. Rossmo and Lorimer handle the art duties with horrific aplomb, littering the pages with blood, gore and general terror. Curse #1 is fairly slow moving, but things could definitely pick up as the series progresses.

Curse #1 is in stores now.


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