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Hugh Likes Comics: Sparrowhawk

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Sparrowhawk #1and 2
Written by Delilah S. Dawson
Illustrated by Matias Basla
Colored by Rebecca Nalty
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom! Studios

Sparrowhawk

The Skinny: Illegitimate daughter Artemisia must fight for a world that has always rejected her when she accidentally trades places with the Faerie Queen.

Artemisia Grey has had a difficult life. Born to a roustabout English nobleman and a slave, she was treated as no more than a servant to the rest of her family, serving as her older sister’s maid, until they needed a marriageable daughter to marry off, of course. Artemisia wishes for nothing more than the freedom to do as she wishes and for someone to love her as she is. The Faerie Queen uses her desires to trade places with her, trapping Artemisia in her realm and gaining a foothold in the human world. It is up to her family and her world, but when the time comes, will she even want to?
Dawson’s dark faerie tale is smart and well paced. Art’s trip through the looking glass from horrible situation to worse feels like an inverse of Alice’s story. Unseelie is a land here everything makes the most brutal kind of sense. Her guides through this world a Crispin, a monstrous little creature that is constantly urging her to acts of violence, and Warren, the only unloved son of the Unseelie Queen, and an avowed pacifist. Together they navigate a complex and mysterious fantasy world.
Basla’s art and Nalty’s colors create a vibrant but unsettling world, full of dutch angles and oversaturated and unnatural tones. It’s an excellent effect, and is contrasted with their much more constrained treatment of the ‘real’ world.
“Sparrowhawk” is a sharp and dark portal fantasy that delves into some fertile thematic territory concerning Love, Colonialism, and the moral hazards of both. You can find the first two issues online via Comixology, or in print at your local comics shop.

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Hugh Likes Comics: Coda

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Coda #1
Written by Simon Spurrier
Drawn by Matias Bergarda
Published by Boom! Studios

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The Skinny – A cynical wanderer navigates a lost magical world in this beautifully illustrated post-apocalyptic dark fantasy.

It is a given in a certain field of fantasy fiction, from Lord of the Rings to “The Legend of Zelda” that when a good, magical, noble fantasy kingdom is faced with annihilation from a Dark Lord, Good will, no matter the odds and no matter how long it takes, triumph in the end. But what if it doesn’t?
This is the central concept behind Spurrier and Bergarda’s “Coda.” A cynical wanderer, and former Royal Bard is searching the wasteland for his missing wife, until he stumbles across Ridgetown, a seeming oasis of magical and technological might out of the ‘old days.’ And they have the enchanted cannon to prove it. But where is their magic coming from? And what would happen to them if they were to lose it?
Coda is “Mad Max” with magic. Or more accurately, with a drought of magic. Just like water and gas running short in that series, we see how the world has fallen apart when the source of magic, a race of magical beings, are wiped out. And a world that seems to have been a black-and-white battlefield between the forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is revealed to be a lot more complex as the survivors struggle to keep on living.
Spurrirer’s writing is intriguing, but it is brought to life by Bergarda’s sumptuous art and colors. The panels have a flow to them that carries you through the story at a disquieting rhythm. The colors have this soft-focus wash to them that establishes the fallen glory of the world perfectly.
Coda is available now from Comixology and Your Local Comics Shop. If you’re looking for something a bit different to tide you over until the next season of Game of Thrones, I heartily recommend it.

Hugh Likes Comics: Abbott

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Abbott #1
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Drawn by Sami Kivela
Published by Boom! Studios

abbott1

The Skinny-A black woman reports on a series of bizarre killings with occult significance while battling institutional racism in ’70’s Detroit.

Abbott is a remarkable comic, with a remarkable first issue. Its most impressive flourish is the sense of place, and its tension, that Ahmed and Kivela bring to the page. They do a standup job of bringing the powder keg of 1970’s Detroit to life. Enter Elena Abbott, a match if there eer was one. A reporter for the Daily Press, she is an unyielding force for truth in a city reluctant to face its own demons. Abbott is under pressure from her bosses and the police after she reported on the killing of a child in police custody. When she investigates a series of gruesome killings with occult significance, she becomes the target of a killer who may bring down both Detroits.
Abbott #1 is a master class of a first issue. In a few scant pages, we’re introduced to the complex world of 70’s Detroit, Abbott, her few allies, and her numerous enemies. Kivela skillfully leads the eye, and colors by Jason Wordie provide a gritty, evocative palate. The panels are interspersed with the text of Abbott’s articles, only giving the reader snippets of phrases. It is an efficient trick to build the world and also raise the tension on the page.
Abbott #1 is the start of a brilliant new series. Pick it up digitally from Comixology, or find a copy at Your Local Comics Shop!

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