Dustin reviewed issue one, and I usurped his power to review number two because this is one of the best comic books to come along in some time. I am pleased to discover a comic where the creative team knows how to tell a story, incorporate visual storytelling, and not blast me with panel after panel of superfluous dialogue. I have read a great deal of fantasy literature, and I respect what Chris Roberson does in his world building effort in Memorial. Issue two follows Em, fresh from fleeing the Dragon’s Teeth statues sent by Hook. Schrodinger the Cat (nice nod to quantum mechanics) mentors Em on the goings on of the fantastic intersecting worlds. The explication moves well, and it doesn’t bog down the story the way such explanations do.
Meanwhile, Hook enters the Shadow Court and enlists the reluctant Oberon and Titania to help find Em. When he finds her, Hook chases the young woman because she wields a key to open a door to different dimensions. A shadow boy intervenes and saves Em. Or does he damn her to a fate worse than Hook? Only the ensuing issues will reveal.
Roberson blends established fairy tale worlds with enough surprise that I never once rolled my eyes at some of the allusions depicted in the book. So much mystery has been interwoven that I did not know what to expect, and I loved the element of surprise that permeated the issue. For instance, the Land of Maybe has a castle with a gryphon flying overhead, fairies in the shrubs, and two robots running amidst the foreground. My mind is racing with the possibilities that could derive from adventures in such an environment. This book made the familiar unfamiliar.
Em is not a helpless maiden, nor is she the Sarah Connor butch, over-the-top female savior. Instead, Em links the reader to the story with the same desire to unlock the secrets of these intersecting worlds. She’s inquisitive, vulnerable, and grounded: a perfect liminal character.
The artwork is an interesting balance of Daniel Clowes and Art Adams. While not being cartoonish, the illustrations give the impression of architectural drawings depicting proposed buildings from a theme park expansion. The artwork maintains a Grimm’s Fairy Tales styling.
So the three things I walked away with from this book were clever and intelligent storytelling, the sense of possibility that existed from the structuring of plot elements, and a selection of artwork that complimented the nature of the book instead of conflicting it.
I finished Memorial #2 with the same felling I did when I first saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in theaters: elation. As goofy as that sounds, I had that warm feeling inside from experiencing an adventure into a fun place and time.
I’m not a huge fan of comics that depict everyday life. Those books are brilliant in their commentaries. For me, a comic needs to be a departure from the life we experience everyday. When a comic allows such a suspension of disbelief through a sensibly constructed work, the book becomes literary. Memorial is literary, artistic, and engaging. That’s great storytelling.
It’s been too long since I had fun reading a comic book. Memorial reminded me of why I enjoy this medium.
Writer: Chris Roberson Artist: Rich Ellis Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/18/12