Indie Comics Spotlight: Sleepy Hollow, Planet Gigantic, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Sleepy Hollow #1


“I have mastered pushing the little red button.”

Sleepy Hollow certainly has its devoted followers. The show is pretty solid, despite being grounded in a somewhat ridiculous version of reality, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable in the first place. BOOM! Studios wants to take readers into town for another ride in Sleepy Hollow #1. The issue is written by Marguerite Bennett, illustrated by Jorge Coelho, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Jim Campbell. “Movie Night” is written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson.

After dying on the battlefield during the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane awakes in present-day Sleepy Hollow, New York. His resurrection is tied to the reappearance of the Headless Horseman, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Realizing it is his mission to help stop the end of the world, Ichabod teams with the SHPD’s Lt. Abbie Mills to meet each evil threat head-on. When minor miracles start to sweep the town, they’re glad something good seems to be happening for once. No decapitations, no headless horseman, no worries, right? But as one by one the miracles start to backfire, more and more violently, Abbie and Ichabod must find time between saving the world to save the citizens of Sleepy Hollow.

The show Sleepy Hollow does exceedingly well in the outlandishness department, as it realizes it’s over the top and embraces it. That comes through very strongly in the banter between Ichabod and Abbie Mills, which Bennett taps into beautifully in the dialogue in Sleepy Hollow #1. Their repartee is just as fast-witted and curious, which makes the book feel as if you’re watching an episode of the series. That seamless transition carries over to the plot as well, with Bennett throwing the duo into the thick of things against a large group of witches. The concept of the issue is very plausible within the Sleepy Hollow universe as envisioned in the show and gives readers a lot of familiar aspects to grab hold of. The pacing of the issue maintains the briskness of the show as well, moving along quite effortlessly between action and investigation.

Sleepy Hollow has an established look that Coelho captures very well. Both Ichabod and the Leftenant maintain their familiar appearance, with Coelho even managing to work their mannerisms into the book as well. Beyond the expected, Coelho’s illustrations boast very sharp angles, with many characters exhibiting slightly elongated body types. This is definitely appropriate for the demonic visitors, but it looks a little strange at some points for other characters; it’s not a distraction or anything, just noticeable. Bonvillain’s colors are very vivid, effectively showcasing effects such as lightning, police lights, and fire. All of the coloring breathes further life into Sleepy Hollow and makes it feel like a living, breathing entity (which it largely is to some extent).

Sleepy Hollow #1 is a great adaptation of the show that hits all the right notes. If you’ve never really checked out the show, it’s a perfect primer of sorts, as it captures the tone and atmosphere very well. Bennett’s script is very snappy and maintains that “how-is-this-happening-I-don’t-care” aspect of the show. Coelho’s art is equally as outlandish in some ways, offering almost a caricature look at Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow #1 is really a lot of fun and offers plenty of enjoyment if you go in knowing that you’re not necessarily getting an accurate, historical representation of a folk legend. That’s what makes it so good as a legend though, which translates into Sleepy Hollow #1. Plus, there’s a pretty awesome short at the end by Stevenson that further captures the zaniness of the property.

Sleepy Hollow #1is in stores now.

Planet Gigantic #1


“Nice landing. Some ‘master of gravity’ you turned out to be.”

Exploration brings with it a lot of unknowns. Discovering those unknowns is the fun part and naming them can be even more exciting. Sometimes though, it’s just as simple to name a place something based on its physical description, as in Planet Gigantic #1 from Action Lab Entertainment. The issue is written by Eric Grissom and illustrated by David Halvorson. It’s broken into two stories: “Planetfall!” and “The Eye of the Sun.”

When two genetically-engineered teenagers named Yuri and Valentina crash-land on a strange planet, they must learn to rely on themselves and their still-developing powers as they face down a giant rock monster. The rock monster turns out to be the least of their worries though, as their encounter with Queen Neva of Woodmere doesn’t go quite according to plan. Meanwhile, in “The Eye of the Sun,” Lyana the Seeker braves a cursed tomb in search of the fabled Eye of the Sun.

Blending the worlds of space and fiefdoms, Planet Gigantic #1 is a happy medium of two genres. Grissom’s world is equal parts technology and kingdom, which makes the story feel pretty imaginative and capable of bigger things. As leading characters, Yuri and Valentina are pretty likable, even if they read somewhat familiarly as a cocky brother and slightly more cautious sister. Their encounter with the natives of Woodmere throws them right into the thick of things, even giving them a glimpse into their adoration towards Queen Neva. Grissom’s script is pretty airy and breezes along, moving the reader from discovering the planet to discovering the enemy to discovering trouble. It’s a simple set-up, but it works.

Planet Gigantic #1 relies on something of a funky art style, courtesy of Halvorson’s penchant for doodling. That’s not to say the art feels simple; rather, he imbues it with a sort of hands-off feel that really works for the context of the tale. Characters are illustrated with newspaper comic accents and features, with sharp, bold outlines defining their bodies and faces. The settings show a certain level of intricacy that make the panels feel very dynamic, especially those where the two teens are in the midst of combat. Panels feel exciting as well, with a lot of variation in their presentation and positioning.

Planet Gigantic #1 is a pretty fun first issue. It does a great job of introducing the reader to a new world that boasts a blend of technology and sorcery in some respects. Grissom’s script is very evenly paced and pretty light, not really requiring a lot on the part of the reader to fully grasp what’s going on. Halvorson’s illustrations are the perfect style for the work as well, offering a style that feels pretty relaxed. Planet Gigantic #1 is a pretty strong first issue that sets the tone for an adventurous tale in a new world.

Planet Gigantic #1 is in stores October 29 (Diamond Order code AUG140943).

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1


“Now that you ask, there’s a small coven in Greendale, just starting up…”

Life as a witch brings with it equal amounts of joy and pain. The times when you’re on and tapping into your abilities are great, but the times when you’re being scorned for your powers and inadvertently summon unspeakable evils aren’t so good. Adding those into the perils of high school just adds another layer of complexity, something that Archie Comics explores in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1. The issue is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Robert Hack, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Before she was a teenage witch, Sabrina was born to a warlock father and human mother. That union proves to be problematic for Sabrina later on, as her aunts claim her because of a deal made by her father. Eventually, she ends up in Greendale and takes up residence in an abandoned funeral home. There she’s joined by a talking cat named Salem and Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose, preparing her to tackle possibly the scariest thing of all in high school.

Riverdale has been made famous by its most notable resident in Archie, but there are lots of other interesting characters there as well. Aguirre-Sacasa does a fantastic job shining the light on Sabrina as one of them, offering a first issue that serves as both an origin issue of sorts as well as a familiarizing of her character. Sabrina dabbles in the dark arts much like any other growing witch would do and the progression of the issue is a great chronology of developmental milestones. There are some rather humorous events, such as telepathy on a young birthday and an aunt scaring a bully, but that doesn’t prevent Aguirre-Sacasa from venturing into the darker corners of witchcraft. And that’s really where Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 excels most, offering up a tale that’s equally as dark in tone as it’s light in humor.

Considering the enduring appeal of a character like Sabrina, Hack does a great job of maintaining a balance between what everyone remembers her looking like and what a slightly more modern take looks like. Hack relies on a lot of pretty harsh shading throughout, which gives the book an eerie atmosphere. It’s almost as if you’re watching a horror movie, where you know something bad is going to happen. Being able to convey that tension through the art reflects talent in Hack, as he clearly knows how to translate that unease into illustrations. The panel layouts feel old-fashioned in a sense as well, standing amidst empty gutters to emphasize the wide array of character looks contained within.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 is a very deliberate first issue that knows exactly what it wants from itself and the reader. The story is a great introduction to the character for those who aren’t as familiar with her, while also eliciting some acknowledging smirks from readers a bit more in the know about her troubled life. Aguirre-Sacasa clearly understands Sabrina and what makes her tick, imbuing her with the right blend of youthful naivety and fascination with her powers. Hack’s illustrations are the perfect fit for the content of the story as it taps into the calm that accompanies impending evil. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 is a strong first issue that features a little something of everything mixed together very organically.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 is available now.

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