Trillium (2014) Review

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STORY BY Jeff Lemire

ART BY Jeff Lemire

Once the final page to this incredible arc is flipped, the mind will have to take a moment to soak in the amount of layers and depth Jeff Lemire had just expressed. At first, Trillium begins as a hard Sci-Fi. Lemire crams heavy world building exposition into every tiny panel on his 12 grid layout. There’s a great sentient virus traveling throughout the universe eradicating all trace of humanity. The Trillium flower is our last hope for a cure. Meanwhile, our two protagonist William and Nika are racing against time and space to uncover the deeper meaning of the Trillium flower, the alien race who holds it sacred and the looming black hole.

Like all good Sci-Fi’s Lemire begins his story with a straight forward solve the mystery save the world scenario; however, once the tale finishes it becomes an exercise in existentialism. Lemire breaksdown the conventional linear narrative in order to accurately express his ideas and characters. For example, remember the cramming heavy exposition into those small panels? In addition, Lemire will also force us to flip the book upside down to read the story from the opposite protagonists perspective. There’s an issue where we have to read it from front to back and then back to front. Not only does this approach force the reader to become actively involved, but also this style breaks linear continuity down into a singularity.

Also, Lemire has also went to great lengths to show a communication breakdown. He portrays this rather through people not being able to speak or understand the other, or the perspectives and motivation runs against the protagonist ideology. It’s only solved with patience and a connection through the Trillium flower. A flower which becomes more symbolic for unity as the story progresses. By the way, Lemire even took time out to create an alien alphabet where people willing to spend time can decode and translate the cryptic alien language.

In the background, the architectural designs and details for the Inca temples or the spaceships are highly detailed. Meanwhile the foreground objects such as characters and artifacts often have an impressionist style. With the world building details of technology contrasting with the unusual morphology of the characters and cosmos, it establishes a more classic science fiction tone and style.

Jeff Lemire forces the reader to actively participate in this Sci-Fi adventure, but it isn’t without reward. The amount of work and creativity Lemire put into deconstructing conventional comic book narrative in order to build this epic is staggering and worth applause. Once the final page to this incredible arc has flipped, it will a take moment before we realize Jeff Lemire had cleverly broke down the existential question into one answer. The non linear structure, the shifting perspectives, the use of language and technology it’s all about a message which transcends beyond time and space.

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Brother Lono (2014) Review

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STORY BY Brian Azzarello

ART BY Eduardo Risso

COLORS BY Patricia Mulvihill

LETTERS BY Clem Robins

After many years, we’re finally thrown back into the high risk ultra violence of 100 bullets. Brother Lono has been M.I.A. for a stretch of time and has taken shelter at a Mexican Catholic Orphanage run by Father Manny and a suspiciously sexy Sister June. Of course, what’s a Mexican crime story without a drug cartels, drug mules, bloodlust philosophers, and scantly clad maybe-not-under-aged hookers?

Just like any hard boiled story about reformed killers, it paces back and forth on the line between redemption and damnation. However, Azzarello’s writing doesn’t come off as forced or preachy. Instead, the diatribes flow more like deathrow poetry which stitch their way through the hyper violence. By the end of the series, Azzarrello and Risso madon for creative brutality made beheading’s look like mercy kills. Although the amount of suffering and death trivializes life and hope, it’s counterbalanced by the moral dilemmas; therefore, bringing the theme and nature of 100 Bullets back to life.

Although the story focuses on Lono and his redemption, his redemption is actually the burden of Father Manny. In the earlier series, a briefcase of 100 bullets was given to a protagonist to bring balance back to their lives, but it was always with a profound cost. Father Manny’s 100 Bullets is Lono himself. He’s given the dilemma between using Lono to defend the orphanage from the cartels or to save Lono from himself. In an act of weakness and fear, Father Manny lights the fuse and as the good book says, “Hell followed with him”.

The art style has matured a little over the years. The lines are a little more clean and the colors a little more polished. The beautiful contrast between the inky darks and the golden tans gave more depth and focus between the characters and their landscapes. Once again, the torture and blood shed was creatively sadistic. The women’s curvacious bodies all dripped with dangerous sex appeal. It was also graceful how Risso would ink iconic Hispanic street or prison art into the landscapes or bodies of the villains.

Not only is this a good tale for beginners to get a taste of the classic series, but also for old fans it felt like a fresh take on what had come before and is definitely worth picking up. What may sound like a classic anti hero tale actually slowly burned into a story about how desperation can cause irredeemable acts. In the world of 100 Bullets, there’s never a short supply of either; however, this struggle against giving into the fight is what makes these stories tick timelessly. It’s never a question of can you but will you.

Coffin HIll Vol. 1 (2014) Review

ImageSTORY BY
Caitlin Kittredge
ART BY
Inaki Miranda
COLORS BY
Eva de la Cruz
Coffin Hill is equal parts Southern Gothic and Supernatural Noir wrapped in a Neo Gothic style. The story focuses on Lacey Coffin. Lacey was a gothic and angsty teen who ran away from home to escape the witchcraft heritage of the Coffin family. After starting a successful career in law enforcement, she gets involved with an undercover shooting incident which gets her suspended. With no place else to go, she heads back to her home town to confront her bloody past, demented family, and the cursed lands of Coffin Hill.
First of all, writer Caitlin Kittredge wanted to base Coffin Hill off of real life locations known for their spooky histories, such as Salem. When visiting these places, Kittredge noticed it wasn’t the people who made these haunted places eery; rather, it was the location that created the creepy and malevolent ambiance to these locations. With the disembodied voices, the sacrificed children, the Gothic architecture, and the swampy forest, Coffin Hill is clearly the lurking antagonist of this story. In addition, Kittredge also does a great job of pacing out this slow burn mystery. Kittredge never lets the audience peek behind the curtain, but she still manages to give just enough clues at the end of each chapter to make you want to come back for the bigger reveal. She also applies this method towards each of her characters. Instead of shoving their past and motivation down our throats in the first few pages of the series, Kittredge shows glimpses of past actions or interactions between characters to slowly build up who they are and were. Also, it’s fascinating how Kittredge treats the witchcraft. The supernatural is always done in such a way that by the time it’s finished one starts questioning if any of it really happened.
The other half of this story is the art itself. Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz perfectly express the mood and theme of this witchcraftian mystery. The characters retain the neo gothic look that had become synonymous with gothic movies and music about vampires and witches, even the protagonist has Marilyn Manson’s colorless eye. Miranda’s creative use of paneling is something to be admired. Not only will Miranda do things like letting his characters spill over into the next sequential panel but also he uses the panels to match the mindset and pacing of the story. When the story is in the calm sunlight, the panels will usually be in an 8 grid format. However, once the darkness of the supernatural or violence begins, the panels become more abstract or twisted in order to match the delirium. Cruz’s coloring also punctuates this dichotomy. When the setting is tranquil, the colors are warm and brightly highlighted by rays of golden sunshine. When the setting becomes disturbing, the colors are dark and blanketed with blue moon beams.
Kittredge sums up the protagonist in Lacey’s soliloquy , “When in nightmares you fall from a high place, you fight and struggle to wake up to remember the dream isn’t real, but the only thing that will wake you up… is hitting the ground”. By the time this volume wraps up, we see our haunted protagonist finally wake up into the bright reality, and we’re left wondering where can we go from here?
Overall, this story is fresh and brilliantly put together. For fans of the gothic supernatural or are still grieving over the loss of Hellblazer, Coffin Hill is definitely worth the read.

Hinterkind Vol. 1 (2014) Review

ImageArt by:

Francesco Trifogli

Cover by:

Greg Tocchini

Written by:

Ian Edginton

Hinterkind is set in a world where Humankind have forced themselves into near extinction. The surviving remnants of humanity are trying to pull together and rebuild their communities. However, this isn’t a standard apocalyptic tale. Ian Edginton has thrown fantasy elements into the mix. Hinterkind is a term for all the Fantasy species such as Elves, Giants, Trolls, Gnomes and so on. After Humankind are no longer the dominating species, the Hinterkind, lead by Elves, come back out of the mystical forests and mountains to reclaim their dominance. Although the setup sounds similar to Del Toro and Mignola’s Hellboy: Golden Army, it is still a very original and smoothly paced story. This can easily be read from an escapist point of view; however, one can also get lost in its depths. For example, this story parallels today’s economic climate. The western society is represented by Humankind and how their actions have led them to lose their control and dominance over the economic market. Meanwhile, the Orient is represented by Hinterkind and how they are reemerging as major players in production and capital. Although this is an interesting perspective of Edginton’s writing, it doesn’t get heavy-handed or stand in the way of the slick paced action or the character development. The story mainly focuses on a human who is naïve but bright and capable female protagonist, P. Monday. P’s charming idealism and survivors instinct is someone readers will want to admire or identify with.

Francesco Trifogli wonderfully detailed art builds this post-society world by having every panel trimmed with abandoned vehicles, overgrown ivy, and dilapidated buildings as well as other apocalyptic features. In addition, the same amount of detail goes into every character’s clothing and physical features which identify their class, race, or species. Another world building touch comes from Edginton which is each pivotal plot point is adorned with scriptures from the First Book of Monday. This is something similar to what Tolkien and Herbert had done in their sagas. What this Narrative device does is create a sense this is a mythological epic which beautifully accents the overall composition of this post apocalyptic fantasy. Edginton and Trifogli have crafted a richly detailed fantasy which perfectly balances social commentary with escapist adventure. Never once does it feel too preachy or shallow.