Indie Comics Spotlight: Skyward, The Fall of the House of Usher, Charismagic
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Remember the old-school JRPGs? Lufia and the Fortress of Doom? Breath of Fire? Those games that featured wide-eyed youths tasked with saving the world? They had a great feel to them that modern RPGs have lost. Fortunately, a new book called Skyward #1 from Action Lab Comics is stepping in to fill that void. The issue is written and illustrated by Jeremy Dale, colored by Steve Downer and lettered by Thom Zahler.
Corin is a “retired” warrior, living an idyllic life with his wife Taryn, son Quinn and dog Jack. They’re the perfect nuclear family for a less civilized time, making their way in the forest amidst all manner of natural creatures and plants. An old friend of Corin named Herod interrupts their happy lives. Herod feels that Corin is wasting his talents as a warrior playing the role of father and homemaker, a fact that leads Quinn to end up on the run.
Dale’s story is very well-paced and presents a solid foundation for an interesting series. Most of the old-school JRPGs started in a similar fashion, with a child (destined, fated, circumstances) taking to the road towards a destination. That’s what really makes Skyward #1 work very well; it recognizes that Quinn’s quest will be fun to follow and goes with it. Herod is set up to be the perfect bad guy and there’s even a hint of fantasy with his two goblin henchmen.
Dale pulls double duty on the art as well and it works great with the story. Again, the characters and setting are very reminiscent of the look of the aforementioned JRPGs. There’s a fantastical feel to the characters, with both Corin and Herod mountains of men, Taryn a doting housewife and Quinn a rambunctious youth. Panel layouts are fairly standard, with a few pages pretty crammed with rectangles. There is a great panel towards the end that amplifies the action depicted in the surrounding environment, which was a very cool effect.
There’s a lot to like about Skyward #1. As a child main character, Quinn is presented with just enough naivety and curiosity that things won’t be easy for him. Surely, he’ll tap into something from his father considering his past occupation as a military man. Herod’s exact motivations for his actions are still a little unclear, but it’s expected that they’ll reveal themselves as the series proceeds.
Skyward #1 is in Previews now and should be in stores soon.
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1
Edgar Allen Poe was a very troubled yet interesting man. His commitment to the macabre was legendary, lending itself to a variety of creative and dark works that are still referenced today. It only makes sense that a story like Fall of the House of Usher gets adapted into a comic and that’s what Dark Horse is doing in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1. The title is written and illustrated by Richard Corben, with letters by Nate Piekos.
Young Allan is venturing over the river and through the woods to visit his friend Roderick Usher. Roderick has come a little more unscrewed since they last saw one another, living in a house littered with family corpses, a scared sister and a burly assistant who doesn’t like when people snoop. A sickness resides in the house of Usher. Its history is cursed, its tenants plagued by abominable love and it’s hallways lined with coffins and the rotted dead.
Corben has a knack for amplifying the morbid and he spares nothing in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1. The tale is equal parts chilling and equal parts intrigue, the sum of which is something that feels both coarse and terrible. Allan quickly realizes he may be in over his head and his friend Roderick might be losing his. There is some instances in the story that feel a little over-narrated, but Corben manages to make sure there’s enough of an unknown that the reader isn’t having their hand held.
Corben’s art is fantastic here, blending disfigured corpses and somewhat disfigured humans. The residence is completely eerie and there are some panels of Allan struggling through the landscape that aren’t fully shown; the fact that Corben can do this and the reader still feels the death in the house is the sign of a great artist. Panels are full of imagery that depicts sorrow, sadness and death, fueling the story’s despair.
If you’ve ever read Richard Corben before, you have a good idea of what you’re going to get. Fortunately, he doesn’t disappoint here, taking a classic by someone who could have easily been his best friend in life in Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1 is the start of a great adaptation that will have both Poe and horror fans ready for more.
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1 is available in stores now.
Charismagic Vol. 2 #1
Magic is a finnicky thing. If you can control it, you can control anything. If you can’t control it, things could get out of hand very quickly. It’s also got a habit of attracting all manner of being, including those of the mammoth, invading monster variety, like in Charismagic Vol. 2 #1. The issue is written by Vince Hernandez, penciled by Vincenzo Cucca, inked by Mark Roslan, colored by Emilio Lopez and lettered by Josh Reed.
Portals are opening up all over the world and magical creatures are making their way through. That doesn’t bode well for humanity, but at least there’s Hank, Sudana and Sparkles on the case. A possessed Hector and Alle are shepherding through the monsters and Kon is behind the scenes, joined by a new character named Esheera. Everything’s shaping up to be a lot crazier than the first volume.
Hernandez picks up right where the first volume left off, thrusting readers smackdab in the middle of everything. There’s really no need for introductions, as all the players are fairly familiar at this point. The magical monster invasion feels a little flimsy though, as they’re invading Earth for reasons unknown in a fairly formulaic manner. It’s not a bad story, just doesn’t really feel very original. It’s likely that their motives will be explained in future issues, but right now all the reader knows is that Sudana feels a great disturbance in the force so to speak.
Cucca’s pencils are very sharp. The invading monsters are indeed monstrous, with their size adding to the story. The book’s illustrations have an almost cartoonish feel to them, blending some elements of anime and comic book illustration to present powerful art. The art really helps the story flow very well and might be the strongest part of the first issues.
Things are only going to get more, ahem, magical in the second volume. Hank has a better grasp on his abilities, which should make the fighting a tad easier for them. Sudana and Kon appear just as powerful and this time Hector and Alle are sort of wildcards in the whole thing, with their motives unclear and an army of monsters behind them. The second volume is shaping up to be something solid though, assuming the monsters want to invade Earth for reasons other than simply wanting to invade another planet.
Charismagic Vol. 2 #1 is available now.