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Hugh Likes Comics: Test

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Test01

Test #1
Written by Christopher Sebela
Drawn by Jen Hickman
Colored by Harry Saxon
Lettered by Hasan Orsmane-Elhaou
Published by Vault Comics

The Skinny: Aleph Null is a test subject on the run. But what is he running towards?

Laurelwood, USA is the town where They are making The Future. Runaway professional test subject Aleph Null is on his way there, as soon as they can figure out what state it’s in, and evade the corporate recovery teams on their trail. But Aleph is a self-surgery junkie with schizophrenic tendencies, and possibly an actual cyborg.
Test is a difficult first issue to wrap my head around. We get flashes and stutters of reality as Aleph wanders their way through a warped and twisted American heartland. The story plays in to the unreality, showing Aleph’s journey in disconnected panels over two distinctly different narrations. One is Alpeh’s semi-lucid narration as they make their way to and observes Laurelwood. The other are reports from the corporations they escaped from, detailing their mysterious past and trail of violence.
Hickman’s art does a great job of framing the story. Everything feels a little off and unreal, and the reader can never be completely sure what is happening, and how it connects to the narration. Everything feels a bit off, in the best way for the comic. Saxon’s colors assist tremendously in setting the mood.
Test #1 is a post-modern medical thriller that is the kickoff to something great. You can find it digitally on Comixology, or in print at your local comics shop.

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Hugh Likes Comics: High Crimes

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Written by Christopher Sebela

Art by Ibrahim Moustafa

Published by Monkey Brain Comics

 

How far can you run from yourself? Zan Jansen was an Olympic snowboarder with a bright future ahead of her, until she fell and saw her chance at a gold medal slip away. After that, everything fell apart. She fled to Kathmandu, where she is drowning herself in substance abuse and guiding tourists up K2. But her real business is a bit darker than that. With the spike in adventure tourism, more and more people are climbing Mount Everest, and not all of them come back down.

When someone dies on the mountain, they are left where they fall. It is one of the hazards of the climb. So far Zan hasn’t climbed Everest. She is saving it. For her, climbing the summit is literally climbing out of the spiral she has put herself it. She says that she’ll climb Everest and keep going. But her boss has, and every time he goes up, he comes down with something someone left behind. A hand and what personal effects they carried. Once he identifies the corpse, he contacts the survivors, and offers to ship them back something to bury. For a fee, of course. It isn’t exactly illegal, but it is dirty work.

Of course, some things are meant to stay buried, and when her boss recovers the corpse of a black-ops government agent gone missing, things start to go very bad for her employer.

Moustafa’s art is fitting for this kind of noir piece. His figures are a bit stiff, but he takes some interesting risks, particularly with layout, that give the piece a nice atmosphere.

Sebela’s central characters are gritty and well defined. They feel like characters with history, and a lot of significant dialog feels unsaid. There’s a richness in what they don’t say, and that’s a tough trick to pull off in a twenty page comic.

I think that if there is a flaw in this comic, it is that the bad guys chasing Zan are a bit too cartoonishly evil. The secret military commander lacks a mustache to twirl when he shoots one of his minions in the face the second he asks a question, but he even goes so far to say that the person who has died ‘went rogue to protect the world from people like us.’

At a buck on Comixology, “High Crimes” is another Monkey Brain comic that really shows the potential of its creative team. It’s at least interesting, even if it might not reach the heights it is reaching for.

“High Crimes” is available from Comixology.