Indie Comics Spotlight – Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea, Ravage #1, and No World #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea

“Oh, pilot, ’tis a fearful night –”

Having a giant demon-hand comes with benefits. It also comes with a lot of responsibility, in that there is a lot of fear on the part of those around you as to whether or not you mean them harm. Hellboy has lived with that reaction his entire life, but it doesn’t make him any less qualified to handle an array of situations. Those situations include being captured by a pirate ship in Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and Gary Gianni, illustrated by Gianni, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Clem Robins.

Hellboy sets sail from the wreckage of a deserted island only to cross paths with a ghost ship. Taken captive by the phantom crew that plans to sell him to the circus, Hellboy is dragged along by a captain who will stop at nothing in pursuit of a powerful sea creature.

There’s always been something poetic about the Hellboy series, but Mignola and Gianni take it a step further in Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea by infusing the issue with the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This approach gives the book more of a weight in its story, in that Mignola and Gianni make it feel bigger. Much of the story features Hellboy characterized as calm from a position of weakness, which is honestly how he operates best. The story also progresses along quite cleanly as Hellboy witnesses firsthand all the chaos and madness surrounding him on the vessel. Mignola and Gianni do a fantastic job of pacing the issue in a way that gives it a sing-song rhythm – similar to an ode. And the reveal at the end is perfectly in-line with other works from the Hellboy universe, capturing the tone of the series very well.

Gianni’s artwork in the book is astounding and the linework boasts a scratchiness to its presentation. There’s a macabre quality to his approach that really allows the reader to understand the atmosphere of the book as Gianni uses a style that evokes older works of art. Hellboy isn’t drawn with overblown proportions and seemingly fits in right alongside the pirates of the ship he’s been taken captive on. And toward the end, Gianni gets to flex some “true” Hellboy looks in that the creatures he renders are a good mix of sea life and fantasy. Stewart’s colors look beautiful as always, with the sharp red of Hellboy popping against the dour grays of the ship at sea.

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is an extremely satisfying Hellboy tale. Hellboy isn’t faced with any situation that he hasn’t necessarily faced before, but his knowledge and approach make for a fascinating read. Mignola and Gianni offer a script that moves along with an attention to literature in its approach. Richard Corben has always excelled at illustrating the grotesque and there are shades of that in Gianni’s work in the issue. Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is a great entry in the Hellboy universe that offers another adventure for him to work his way out of.

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is available now.

Ravage #1

“Sorry, I don’t deal anymore.”

Criminals have a tendency to do things that are largely selfish. There is some regard for others around them, but it’s generally extended as far as those around them can offer them something they need. That theory is put to the test in Ravage #1. The issue is written by Damian S. Simankowicz, illustrated by Greg Woronchak, colored by Mike Stefan, and lettered by Primal Arhcetype.

Ravage #1 is an urban horror, about a young drug dealer who has 24 hours to infiltrate his own gang and find the identity of a masked serial killer before federal police arrest him for a crime he may have unwittingly supplied weapons for.

Simankowicz’s premise behind the issue is actually pretty interesting, but getting to it feels a little rushed at times. There’s essentially a group of young adults who operate as a gang and Simankowicz sort of crashes through the group dynamic by offering a few different situations for them to interact with one another. Once a lot of that introducing is taken care of, the main story starts to take shape and the narrative follows Alex, a former drug-dealer. Simankowicz relies on him to be the focal point for the reader as he’s pulling on threads to get to the bottom of a newly-arrived serial killer. The dialogue is pretty standard yet effective in giving the reader enough information to know what’s going on and keep up.

Woronchak’s artwork is pretty minimal. Each of the characters are illustrated in a way that ensures there’s no confusion as to who’s who in the story, although they exhibit some strange poses that feel a little unnatural at times. The settings are somewhat sparsely illustrated in a way that makes everything feel distant, but Woronchak offers enough detail as to where the reader can pretty easily discern where things are happening. The panels are laid out in a standard grid format and allows for the reader to relatively easily follow along. Stefan’s colors are pretty basic and largely primary, but they do offer another layer of depth to the artwork.

Ravage #1 is a interesting concept in that it sort of subverts the notion of good and bad. There’s no honor amongst thieves and that theory is put to the test in the issue. Simankowicz’s script has a broader plan in mind and works itself well to get to the larger goal. Woronchak’s artwork is a good fit for the story and is pretty simple in its presentation. Ravage #1 is a somewhat new take on a familiar concept and will offer a tale of things that likely get crazier than they get better.

Ravage #1 is available now.

No World #1

“The entire incident lasted exactly 60 seconds.”

What do you get when you cross a hit woman, a fairy, and a mercenary? Certainly not a fun buddy comedy. Aspen Comics has something different in mind for No World #1. The issue is written by Scott Lobdell, penciled by Jordan Gunderson, inked by Mark Roslan and Charlie Mok, colored by JUANCHOo, and lettered by Zen.

A mysterious conglomerate has emerged on the scene with a sinister purpose — the incorporation of pure evil on a scale never seen before! But, will this collection of unstable personalities come together as friends to defeat this new adversary — or will they instead battle as foes?!

Lobdell takes a very slow and methodical approach in No World #1. Iris, Miya, and Dellec are brought together under less than ideal circumstances and Lobdell essentially throws the reader into the mix with them. There’s a lot of backstory for all the characters involved and it’s apparent Lobdell prefers to hit the ground running here as opposed to holding the reader’s hand. It’s an interesting approach considering how steeped in mythos the Aspen Universe is, but Lobdell handles it very well. There’s a minimal amount of dialogue throughout the issue and it doesn’t get bogged down by expository with Lobdell leaning more on the action to tell the story.

Gunderson’s artwork fits the narrative quite perfectly. His lines are extremely clean and sharp throughout, infusing the characters with physical heft as they share panels with one another. The panels are staggered in a way that lends to the frenetic energy of the issue as a whole and – despite the book largely taking place at a diner in the middle of nowhere – there’s plenty of action as the issue picks up.

Gunderson’s style is very much a superhero one in that the characters all sport moves and looks that feel heroic, but it works for the issue. The inks by Roslan and Mok and colors by JUANCHOo help give the book a superhero sheen as well, blending together colors in a way that gives the art a sense of realism.

No World #1 is light on detail, but heavy on action. Iris is pulling together what appears to be a team to fight a nameless baddie at this point, but it’s likely those details will get fleshed out as the series progresses. Lobdell’s script is sound and fast-paced, serving as an excellent example of showing, not telling. Gunderson’s illustrations are very refined and great at conveying a sense of chaos for the main characters involved. No World #1 is a lot of fun and very much an introduction issue, but the payoff looks like it could be worth it.

No World #1 is available now.

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