Indie Comics Spotlight: Jenny Finn #1, Dark Fang #1, and The Harcourt Legacy #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Jenny Finn #1

“This world’s no better for us bein’ in it.”

Times in older eras were rough for a variety of reason. London was no exception, as the din and clamor of the river it sits on made every day an adventure in society. In Jenny Finn #1 from Dark Horse Comics, that difficulty is further compounded by a mysterious horror stalking prey. The issue is written by Mike Mignola, illustrated by Troy Nixey, and colored by Dave Stewart.

London’s dockside is threatened by the twin terrors of a plague that leaves bodies covered in tentacles and a slasher killing women in the night, all of which began after the arrival of a strange young girl who is followed by whispers of doom wherever she goes.

Mignola is no stranger to the strange and his work in Jenny Finn #1 is certainly no exception. The story follows Joe, a seemingly well-intentioned individual who has to grapple with a decision he makes regarding a spate of murders in London. Mignola funnels the entirety of the narrative through him, providing information to the reader along the way and demonstrating his exceptional grasp of storytelling. There’s something strange (probably supernatural) about Jenny Finn and the events of the book, but Mignola leaves a lot of it to the imagination. It’s likely that Mignola has something in mind when it comes to the tale in general and he does very well to not completely tip his hand in the first issue.

The artwork by Nixey is what really gives the book a different tone. Nixey’s work focuses on making everyone look ugly in a way that likely represents the ugliness in their personalities. Nixey offers perspectives of the characters that reflect a certain grotesque nature about them that would make Richard Corben proud. Nixey’s presentation near the beginning of the issue that demonstrates the abnormal way people are dying meshes well with Mignola’s take on the events and furthers the notion that things are ugly in Jenny Finn’s London. Stewart’s colors are appropriately present per normal, imbuing the book with just the right amount of a washed-out sense that reminds the reader they’re in another era.

Jenny Finn #1 is haunting in a way that relies more on a subversion of the horror genre by emphasizing the normalcy of things. Joe wants to do and be good, but it turns out there are things beyond his control that don’t always encourage that approach. Mignola’s script is very subtle in its presentation and pacing, gradually building up a suspense throughout that keep’s the reader curious. Nixey’s artwork is beautifully ugly in that it reinforces the macabre sword dangling over the events. Jenny Finn #1 isn’t shy about being a story about an unknown terror and how such an event can be haunting in its own right.

Jenny Finn #1 is available now.

Dark Fang #1

“I call forth my powers. It was foolish to begin without them.”

Climate change is real and it’s happening fast. It’s on humanity to take steps to slow the damage, but there are some who don’t feel the need to step up. That’s where an environmentally conscious vampire like Valla in Dark Fang #1 from Image Comics comes in. The issue is written by Miles Gunter, illustrated by Kelsey Shannon, and lettered by Taylor Esposito.

Her name is Valla. In life she was a fisherwoman. In death she is a vampire residing peacefully on the bottom of the ocean. When a mysterious dark plague descends upon her aquatic paradise, she must venture to the surface in search of answers. What she finds is a world headed towards an environmental collapse that will eventually wipe out her food supply. If Valla is to continue to have the blood she needs to survive, then she must stop the fossil fuel industries from destroying the planet — no matter the cost.

The overarching theme in Dark Fang #1 of climate change is a very ambitious one, even if it’s barely discussed in the first issue. Instead, Gunter focuses on Valla as the lead character, giving the reader a quick look at her history and how she’s coping with the present. The bulk of the issue revolves around Valla adapting to a society obsessed with feedback and willing to pay good money for it thanks to social media. Gunter’s approach actually make the series seem to be a lot more about the social media feedback loop than anything else as it spends much more time on that path. The pacing of the issue is a little jarring because of this as Gunter moves quickly through Valla finding a “career,” flashing back to her time before being a vampire, and then coming back to the present where her ambitions are laid bare.

Shannon got the laid bare memo as well, seeing as how the illustrations are hyper-sexualized to reinforce Valla’s existence as a hedonistic vampire. Shannon’s artistic approach is very slick and Valla is presented as almost a fantasy; her looks definitely fit well with her plan to get money from viewers. Aside from the sexiness, Shannon also emphasizes her more vampiric nature by working in a few scenes of gore that don’t come across as that gory thanks to the somewhat cartoonish illustrative approach. Panels are laid out just as cleanly as the artwork, as Shannon relies on the clean, empty gutters to better emphasize the artwork. And the colors are vibrant in a way that seems counter-intuitive for a book about a vampire, but it works because of the more modern nature of the story.

Dark Fang #1 really embraces the concept of a vampire as a sex symbol and runs with it. Valla seems to have a grander mission in mind, though, even if it’s not entirely apparent in the first issue. Gunter’s script seems to have larger ambitions, but by the end of the first issue that aim is a little murky. Shannon’s artwork is very modern and cartoonish in its appearance, adding a bit of levity to the story that’s otherwise intended to be pretty deep. Dark Fang #1 is being billed as a statement on climate change even if it doesn’t really delve too much into that aspect of things by the end of the issue.

Dark Fang #1 is available now.

The Harcourt Legacy #1

“I understand now.”

Family inheritance is always a thorny subject. Some relatives feel they get too little, while others feel that a relative got something they should have. Very rarely is magic involved in the inheritance as it is in The Harcourt Legacy #1 from Action Lab Entertainment. The issue is written and lettered by Brendan Cahill, illustrated by Jason Federhenn, and colored by Josh Burcham.

Rich occultist Edward Harcourt lies on his deathbed. After a lifetime of searching for true magic, Edward thinks he’s found some answers, and he wants to pass them along to his grandniece, a gloomy teenager named Violet. But that may be a problem for Edward’s sister Edwina, who has her own plans for his legacy.

The crux of The Harcourt Legacy #1 is family and expectations, both of which Cahill does a solid job of impressing upon the reader. Violet is a typical teenager who’d rather be anywhere else all of the time so Cahill’s decision to funnel the narrative through her is interesting. And Cahill prevents the issue from being just another family inheritance saga by infusing it with a slight tinge of magic and the unknown. Granted, Cahill doesn’t delve too deeply into the magic portion of it in the first issue; rather, he focuses instead on establishing the players and previewing the stakes. His dialogue achieves this end rather flawlessly, in that each of the characters have distinct personalities that make them more believable to the reader.

Federhenn presents the characters in a very slick and sharp way. There’s a very pronounced, sharp approach in how he renders the characters that gives the book a very modern feel that juxtaposes well against the seemingly older sensibilities that the magic component bring. Each panel evokes a sense of meticulousness that shows Federhenn’s approach is very methodical and well-executed. There’s also a few panels where Federhenn double-illustrates a character in a way that shows a quick motion; it’s not the first time it’s been done, but Federhenn’s take on it is fantastic. Burcham imbues the book with a rich spirit thanks to bold, vivid colors throughout the issue.

At its core, The Harcourt Legacy #1 is about just what the title represents: legacy. Violet is thrust into a role that she neither expected nor fully understands, but that doesn’t mean she’s not capable of taking on the task. Cahill’s script knows where it wants to be at the end of the issue and hits all the right notes for a first issue. Federhenn’s illustrations are very clean and demonstrate a strict attention to detail. The Harcourt Legacy #1 is a good first issue that takes the premise of magic and blends it with family dysfunction.

The Harcourt Legacy #1 is available now.

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