By Dustin Cabeal
Like me, you may have missed the deconstruction of the individual Aspen titles sometime last year. Not to be mean, but I really didn’t care. Aspen over the past several years has been very inconsistent and shipped very little. If I’m not mistaken, we’re still waiting for the second issue of the newest Executive Assistant: Iris title, which doesn’t seem to matter now.
No World takes all the individual Aspen worlds and seemingly mashes them together. In that regard, it’s very similar to what IDW did with Revolution in which it took all its individually successful Hasbro books and smashed them together to make a shared universe because that’s apparently all comic fans care about, though I doubt anyone asked them any real questions about the merging. With No World, it’s not that these titles are all smash hits, but rather they have dedicated fan bases, or at least I assume as much since they continue to publish these titles.
One thing that’s quite strange about this issue is the pacing. The issue begins with a massacre in a mall with some creatures that looked vaguely familiar. It’s been a while since I read an Aspen book so I don’t recall what series they come from originally. After a quick four pages, all of which are devoid of any action or gore, we get an establishing shot of a dinner in the actual location of fucking nowhere. It doesn’t make a lick of sense and even less sense when Iris shows up out of nowhere. She talks to the waitress, who is a Soulfire character and tells her some shit is coming and then some shit comes. They shoot up the dinner in classic “shoot up the dinner” fashion, and then a third character appears, and the issue ends.
I have a hard time calling the ending a cliffhanger. It’s a hard stop, but it happens right when the comic is finally starting to feel as if it's heading somewhere. The dialogue from Scott Lobdell is solid. He can write believable dialogue for days on end, and that’s the case here. I’m not sure if he had any say in the art direction and what was appearing on the different pages, but if he did, it’s not his best work. We’ll move on to cover the artwork at the same time.
The four-page opening is completely worthless. We don’t see any gore, we spend way too long with an old man, a woman, and a baby and then we see a splash page of the news cycle. This all leads to the establishing shot of the dinner, which isn’t a bad page, but it’s far from beautiful or even a showcase of Michal Gunderson’s skills. All in all, it feels like five wasted pages out of the twenty pages of story. I’m a huge fan of Micah Gunderson’s artwork, and he’s elevated his style with this series, but there needs to be smarter art direction. There are too many wasted pages. The action sequences were easy to follow and looked great. I loved how Gunderson illustrated Iris; it was the first time her outfit has looked cool and functional without losing all the detail to it when the fighting begins.
This book isn’t perfect. Hell, I don’t even know if we need a shared universe for Aspen, but we’re getting one. I just hope that they have the writers, the artists and the scheduled lined up to sport this event. If not, it’ll make me wonder what it was all for in the end. It would be nice to see Aspen selling comics again and not just Michael Turner variants for DC and Marvel.
No World #1
From Aspen Comics