Indie Comics Spotlight: George Perez’s Sirens, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches, and Purgatori

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By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

George Pérez’s Sirens #1

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“It’s working! I’m getting full readings on the Sirens! Positive scans all around.”

The question of whether or not intelligent life exists beyond the stars is one that may never have an answer. Sure, we’ll keep looking, but we may not like what we find. For instance, if we just so happen to realize that there are a group of women out there from various eras who come together as an intergalactic fighting squad, we may not know what to do with ourselves. That makes reading George Pérez’s Sirens #1 from BOOM! Studios even more important. The issue is written and illustrated by George Pérez, colored by Leonardo Paciarotti and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

As an intergalactic force enslaves planets across the galaxy, the legendary team known only as the Sirens must reunite to save the galaxy. It’s a pretty heady task, made even more so by the fact that the Sirens themselves don’t even remember who they are. And the rest of the universe only remembers them as villains, which doesn’t exactly help their cause.

George Pérez’s Sirens #1 is nothing if not bombastic. That is to say, Pérez crams so much into the first issue that it’s clear he’s going all out and wants the readers to jump into the deep end of this universe. Some readers will likely be turned off by the sheer amount of dialogue/story in the book, as it’s almost too much. This lends to some slightly erratic pacing here and there, as Pérez jumps from one character (and era) to another. Offering up a variety of strong, female heroes is something that Pérez does very well though, intricately weaving their existences together as components of a much larger team.

Just as George Pérez’s Sirens #1 is chock full of story, it’s also loaded with some pretty gorgeous illustrations by Pérez. His style is very familiar and he doesn’t try to deviate too much from it, presenting pages rife with characters and action. Many of the pages are teeming with action, asking the reader to really stop and admire everything going on with some frequency. He deftly blends the look of a variety of eras together very well, giving them a uniform appearance thanks to his recognizable style. There’s a page showing all the Sirens that really hammers home this continuity in style, with all the leading ladies presented in a way that gives the reader context for each one.

George Pérez’s Sirens #1 is a very ambitious book that seems to want to tell an equally ambitious story that spans both time and space. The Sirens are clearly a force to be reckoned with, yet what exactly they’re going up against isn’t quite fleshed out by the end of the issue. Pérez put so much content in the first issue that it’s easy for the reader to lose sight of the actual plot, as most of the issue is character and universe building. His artwork is great though, filling every page with some great looks at the characters who will carry the series. George Pérez’s Sirens #1 could have easily been six-issues by itself, but short of that readers will be lucky as it is to get another five-issues that further explores the life of the Sirens.

George Pérez’s Sirens #1 is in stores now.


Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches #1

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“Long ago when the sparrows still flew as this as the night, in a land so remote the king had yet to claim it, there lived a young woman.”

Fairy tales have the ability to both tell a story and offer up a lesson from said story. The form of the actual story doesn’t really matter; what matters most to many is whether or not there’s a moral that can be learned. Many fairy tales deal with our interactions with one another and with our planet and more often than not the planet isn’t quite keen on some of our decisions. That’s the case in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Witches #1 from Archaia, written, illustrated and lettered by S.M. Vidaurri.

When her brother is kidnapped by a witch, a young princess must venture into the mysterious forest beyond the castle. There, the Lord of the Forest, an armor clad spirit who watches over the wilderness, comes to her aid, but the princess must rely on her wits to discover who she can trust before her family is cursed forever. This comes after a trying time for their family and uncertainty over who will rule.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Witches #1 recounts “The Magic Swan Goose and the Lord of the Forest,” a story loosely based on “The Magic Swan Geese.” Even without the fairy tale influence, the book feels extremely endearing and the Jim Henson influences shine through. Vidaurri’s writing style is rhythmic at points, giving the story the appropriate cadence and childish feel. The point of view used for recounting the story offers up a good bit of childhood innocence that’s truly effective at capturing the essence of a fairy tale. Henson was definitely a master of his craft and Vidaurri does an exceptional job translating that into the story.

Archaia is known for well thought out and put together books and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Witches #1 is certainly no exception. Everything about it screams tradition and Vidaurri is fantastic at adapting the story into images. And Vidaurri doesn’t rely on traditional comic bubbles to convey the story either; instead, she makes the dialogue feel organic and native to the action occurring on the pages. In this regard, she blends the words into the background illustrations as a means of making the story about the importance of preserving the environment feel more natural. Additionally, the book carries with it a painted quality that makes it feel more storied than it actually is, helping to invoke nostalgia that comes along with coming across an old copy of a familiar tale.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller was very successful a few years ago when Archaia first published it and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Witches #1 is a worthy successor to the name that maintains the perfect spirit. It draws upon the concept that even those deemed young can have the wisdom of someone much older. Vidaurri’s take on the story is very even and well-paced, unfolding to the reader with an eye toward respecting the source material. Likewise, the dreamlike qualities of Vidaurri’s artwork give the book an elegant appeal that will likely engender warm feelings in the reader. Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Witches #1 is a very good book overall–even if it’s a little non-traditional–and has appeal to readers of all ages.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller Witches #1 is in stores now.


Purgatori #1

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“It is high time we humble this prisoner.”

When you spend your lifetime as a feared goddess, you make a lot of enemies. A LOT of enemies. Those enemies tend to hold grudges, so when they get your hands on you it’s not going to be good. Purgatori is a character who’s always gotten her way. That’s about to change in Purgatori #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, written by Aaron Gillespie and illustrated by Javier Garcia Miranda.

Purgatori has a bad situation brewing for her: she’s trapped in hell and being tortured. That torture is at the hands of Lucifer himself and he’s intent on sending a message to Purgatori that she’ll not soon forget. Both Hel and Lucifer are keen on taking out a lot of frustration on Purgatori in the meantime, finding very little in the way of torture that can actually get to her. Fortunately for Lucifer (and unfortunately for Purgatori), there’s one form of torture he can exact upon her that not even she expects.

Purgatori is a centuries old goddess who’s had her way with countless civilizations, so having her humanized a bit is a pretty interesting back to basics for the character. Gillespie does a solid job introducing her to unfamiliar readers as someone who’s spent an eternity getting her way, which makes her humbling at the end even more of a satisfying set-up. Having said that, the pacing throughout is a little uneven. Most of the issue is spent at the hands of her captors, with dialogue being exchanged that reinforces her toughness. The last few pages introduce the reader to the new Purgatori, subsequently setting up where the next few issues will likely be headed.

Most of the book takes place in hell, which Miranda illustrates quite convincingly. He eschews the traditional landscapes of fire and brimstone in favor of an underground setting that’s more reminiscent of a cave. Lucifer looks sufficiently intimidating, while Purgatori retains much of what fans of her character will remember when she was a major player in the past. There a crispness to the art that makes it feel very polished and Miranda relies on some pretty intricate shading to emphasize the vileness of some characters. There are some instances where the shadows are a little too dark, which makes interpreting some of the action a little difficult.

Purgatori #1 is sort of a rebirth of the character, introducing her to a new generation of readers. In that regard, the first issue does a great job setting her up by using her past as a means of defining her evil, while at the same time putting her in a position to regain some of her previous reputation. Gillespie presents her as a woman previously feared for her ruthlessness now subjected to essentially being laughed at by humanity (much like Illyria in Angel). Miranda illustrates her with a great bloodlust that even she has difficulty sating and gives her a lot of help in the way of reintroducing her to readers. There’s even a pretty powerful full-page illustration that gets her back in the action in a big way. Purgatori #1 is a strong first issue for a familiar character that puts her in a rather unfamiliar situation.

Purgatori #1 is in stores now.


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