No one wants to start off a review on the negative, but there’s nowhere else to start. The first issue of Hel’s Labyrinth feels incomplete. It feels like half an issue stretched into a full issue making it confusing and lacking any real substance to bring the reader back for more. A creepy woman informs us that the time for Ragnarok has come and sends a servant to go and find “them” because their deaths are all they need. We then end up at circus. I know this because there are a lot of panels showing me how big and empty this circus is. Also a lot of proportional problems with the art as well. Over the loud speaker they ask people to check their tickets and ask for the lucky winners to come to a special tent for their prize. Their prize is a journeying through a black void and coming out into a snow filled landscape that is clearly nowhere near where they were before.
We know nothing about the characters. We barely even see them speak and we know nothing of what they’re up against. Sure we know they must die for Ragnarok, but why? Why them? Is it random? Do we actually care? Maybe they kill puppies and I’m okay with them dying. That’s the problem with this story, it’s so vague that you have to do all the work with your own imagination. Then you realize, “I don’t want to think about this, I’d rather think about a story I like.”
I didn’t like this story. There’s only half a story there. We don’t know anything about anyone or anything in the story. Can they defeat the creepy woman and stop Ragnarok? Is her life so bad that she needs Ragnarok? Also if it’s the typical Norse mythology just say that. Why do I have to assume it’s Norse based because of the title and yet if you know anything about the Norse mythology you would be confused by this story. I have more fucking questions than answers and frankly I don’t want them answered at this point.
The art is a far cry from good. It’s simple at best. There are tons of proportion problems and lots of filler. This comic could be cut in half if you remove the excess panels. There’s a two-page spread of our characters walking through darkness. The page is black and they are white and that’s the only thing happening on a two-page spread. I don’t know why anyone would do that. That should have been a quarter inch panel at best. There was nothing dramatic about it and it looks nothing like the rest of the comic so it’s more confusing than suspenseful. All of the character lack detail and have practically the same face minus the lines for the noses.
Comics like this frustrated the hell out of me. I don’t want to bash an indie comic. I want to praise them and tell everyone to check it out, but that’s not the case here. The creators have a lot of work to do if they’re going to turn this ship around from the construction of the story, to the plot, the character voices and everything about the art. I’ve seen worse art, but everything here’s is unpolished and looks like a beginner illustrated it.
You should just avoid this comic. It’s not one of those comics that’s so bad it’s good. It thinks it’s clever, but in actuality it’s just a poorly constructed story with art that unfortunately matches.
Hel’s Labyrinth #1 Writer: Ari Daska Artist: Dani Hoots Publisher: Antik Comics Price: $5.00 Format: Print Website