Indie Comics Spotlight – Gravetrancers #1, Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1, Void Trip #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Gravetrancers #1



“All of this, I assure you, is a real thing.”

It takes a special person to be comfortable handling the deceased on a daily basis. Saying nothing about the basic concept of physically handling dead bodies, there’s something emotional about it as well that asks a person be somewhat disconnected from life. In Gravetrancers #1 from Black Mask Studio, some mortuary wardens are detaching themselves in a slightly unconventional way. The issue is written by M.L. Miller, illustrated by James Michael Whynot, colored by Dee Cunniffe, and lettered by Jim Campbell.

On a journey to track down the grave of their estranged father, Maribel and Anthony find their way to the Malort Cemetery, a strange, seemingly abandoned field of mostly unmarked tombs. There they encounter an eccentric clan of grave-robbers who’ve devised a highly-addictive drug made from human remains – and the fresher the corpse, the stronger the dose. What started out as an attempt to reconnect with the past becomes a descent into a psychedelic, neon-colored nightmare, will Maribel and Anthony find their way through the hallucinogens or will they become the next hit?

Miller starts off the book relatively innocently enough with the introduction of Maribel and Anthony, two siblings seeking to visit their father’s grave. Miller’s dialogue reinforces the duo as very typical siblings, but as soon as they arrive at Malort Cemetery things slowly begin to unravel for the characters and the reader. The premise in Gravetrancers #1 is actually pretty interesting, as Miller explores the personalities that are the most likely to own a morgue and how interacting with primarily the dead could have an adverse effect on dealing with the living. Where the issue really takes a turn is about halfway through the book when both the reader and the character realize that Miller has nothing but bad in store for the characters. The issue is paced extremely well in this regard as there’s a slow and steady build-up to the cliff right before the reader is pushed off.

Accompanying Miller’s deranged script is Whynot’s artwork, illustrated in a way that just feels unnerving. His style is very similar to that of Shaky Kane, except that Whynot relies a lot more on heavy shading and cross-hatching. The seemingly ambiguous approach to Whynot’s artwork bolsters the uneasiness of the characters and the reader, serving as a constant reminder that even when the two siblings are just driving you get the sense things are about to get worse. There’s a sequence at the end where hallucinations occur and Whynot ensures they’re even more terrifying than the artwork as a whole. Cunniffe’s colors are an interesting mix of dark and neon colors, juxtaposing death with life.

Gravetrancers #1 is a very intense book that embraces the same terror it’s looking to invoke. Maribel and Anthony are getting into something that they’re not prepared for and the reader is along for the ride. Miller’s script is methodical in its approach, giving the reader everything the need to know to enjoy both the first issue and the series as a whole. Whynot contributes an art style that’s equal parts grindhouse and general horror, blending together elements of both with ease. Gravetrancers #1 offers a very dark look at the macabre, delving six-feet under the reader’s sense of comfortable before digging even deeper.

Gravetrancers #1 is available December 6.

Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1



“Yeah, let’s try not to die in a fire on the open sea.”

A pirate’s life is fraught with swashbuckling (whatever that is), walking the plank, and trying to not to burn your contribution to the potluck. Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1 from Action Lab Entertainment at the very least has the last part covered with a potential to delve in the two former components as well. The issue is written by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by Xenia Pamfil, and lettered by Justin Birch.

High adventures on the high seas are back! With her crew restored from their run-in with her treacherous brothers, Raven is ready to reclaim what was stolen from her. But first…DANCE PARTY! Raven promised she would confess her love for Ximena, but Sunshine has other plans. Who will end the night dancing with whom?

For much of the issue, the highest stakes Whitley sets for the characters is whose food tastes the best and who has the best dance moves. Behind those seemingly innocuous accolades, Whitley manages to work in some pretty in-depth character involvements that are likely to propel the story forward. There’s a burgeoning love triangle at the heart of the series and Whitley offers it to readers in a way that doesn’t feel forced. The dialogue reinforces this as all the characters share the same sense of general ease with one another that their exchanges feel entirely natural. Whitley doesn’t forget about the action that makes the Princeless series great, working in a pretty bombastic finale few pages that’s sure to keep the crew on their toes.

Pamfil’s artwork in the book is pretty slick and lighthearted. There’s a clear tone of camaraderie and friendship amongst the crew and Pamfil’s illustrations really reinforce that point with the reader. Each of the characters is distinct in their own way thanks the very clean approach by Pamfil in rendering the variety of women. The ship’s setting is detailed enough where the reader gets the sense of the presence of the ship, with Pamfil emphasizing subtle details here and there. Considering the bulk of the book takes place below deck the work could have been dour and dark, but Pamfil uses colors that ensure everything stays bright and vivid.

Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1 feels pretty good to read. Raven and her crew are looking for a break from their otherwise action-packed adventures for a little rest and relaxation, but even that comes with strings attached. Whitley infuses Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1 with a flow that mimics the ups and downs of being on the open sea. Credit to Pamfil on illustrating a book that just feels happy, despite the underlying emotions and impending danger on the horizon. Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1 is another strong entry in the Princeless series that offers a little bit of everything as a first issue.

Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #1 is available now.

Void Trip #1



“The universe is real big, man.”

Philosophical views of life come from a variety of different thinkers. Some of the more traditional thinkers are enshrined in history as such, while some of the more non-traditional thinkers are viewed with a skeptical eye. Fortunately, for a non-traditional thinker such as Ana in Void Trip #1 from Image Comics, she has a relatively captive audience. The issue is written by Ryan O’Sullivan, illustrated by Plaid Klaus, and lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

Ana and Gabe are the last two humans left alive in the galaxy. They’re low on fuel, they’re low on food, and they’re low on psychedelic space froot, but they’re still determined to make it to the promised land: hippy-paradise, super-planet Euphoria. This is the story of their journey, the friends and enemies they made along the way, and how the universe responded to those who dared to live freely within it.

O’Sullivan is insistent on making sure the reader knows there’s a lot more depth in Void Trip #1 than the title may seem to indicate otherwise. The pairing of Ana and Gabe isn’t exactly a new one from a characterization standpoint – any stoner comedy has pretty much laid the groundwork for them to exist – but O’Sullivan manages to add a twist to their relationship by making them the last remaining humans. From that, O’Sullivan is afforded some leeway in allowing Ana to wax poetic about the headier things in life. Because the duo is forced to contend with a the weight that comes with being the last of anything, O’Sullivan capitalizes on that in giving Ana more of a reason to be so philosophically high all the time. The dialogue shared between the two main characters is extremely effective at keeping the plot moving along, even if some it does come off a little cliché.

Klaus’ art style is extremely clean and precise. It’s apparent that Klaus took a very meticulous approach in rendering the characters and their world (galaxy?), effortlessly bringing together the human and non-human characters. The majority of the issue is “narrated” by Ana in a sense and Klaus does very well in capturing her facial expressions throughout her ramblings. The way Klaus illustrates the events in the bar is also pretty awesome, in that he gives the reader a seemingly accurate, visual description of what happens when a user consumes froot. The colors are warm throughout the issue before taking a neon-infused turn in the aforementioned tripping scene.

Void Trip #1 is a very accurate name for the book as it sums up the characters pretty perfectly. Ana and Gabe are on the run and trying to get by, possibly failing to realize that there are much larger things at play that involve them. O’Sullivan’s script is pretty enjoyable and engaging, effectively giving the reader enough information to be intrigued and not so much that the reader’s hand is being held. The artwork by Klaus is succinct and refined, bringing some order to the otherwise chaotic characters. Void Trip #1 is, honestly, a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out if you want something slightly off-kilter.

Void Trip #1 is available now.


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