And then there was one. If you’ve been following along with our coverage you know that quite a few of us have been following this book, but sometimes there are books you don’t want to review. You’d rather just enjoy it instead of review it and so the task falls to me to close out the series via our coverage. Now as much as I’ve enjoyed this series I do have one gripe with it… the pacing. I don’t mean the pacing of the individual issues because that has always been fine, but here we are at the end of the first volume and I feel like we’re still at the beginning. That’s not to say that the story needed filler or that a good story can’t move quickly, but there are elements that aren’t as strong because of the overall story’s pace.
The most notable being Big Alice; her original appearance was powerful and notable, but then she quickly reappears here and it’s the complete contrast of everything she was before. She’s not dangerous, she’s not robust and worst of all she’s not interesting. She felt like a Dragonball character; remember how Goku would go through these crazy battles and beat the villain by the skin of his teeth and then when facing the next villain the old villain would show up and get their asses handed to them in zero point one seconds? That’s kind of how Big Alice is here.
The story itself sees our makeshift group at the gate of the underworld about to take Sissy to her rightful place as the new ruler. It’s pretty cut and dry so I’m not going to over explain the entire story to you, but I will talk about a scene that I absolutely enjoyed.
At one point Ginny’s mother appears as she does every day and asks to be let go, but it’s just as Fox has arrived. The way the blind man looks at her says everything you need to know about the scene. His regret for keeping her captive and failing her in general all comes across in just one panel. It’s a powerful statement of writing and art working hand in hand together.
It should come as no surprise that Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing doesn’t dip on this final issue and while I had problems with Big Alice that scene is over rather quickly. The rest of the issue contains some fantastic scenes and more cryptic dialogue that makes sense, but doesn’t at the same time. Granted not all of my questions are answered in this issue, but that wasn’t the point of the overall story and with it continuing I’m fine with that. It gives the world somewhere to go.
Before I move to the artwork I want to talk about an unsung hero of this book and that’s letterer Clayton Cowles. His lettering isn’t just easy to read, it is absolutely perfect for the series. There is just something about the font that brings the story to life and it’s something I’ve never had the chance to cover previously. Also I think more comics should have different colored word bubbles like Cowles has used on this series as it helps give each character personality.
I might be Emma Rios’ biggest fan. She needs to make more comics because her style shows that there is no one way to structure a comic and that you can tell a great story without following the “rules.” The scene just after Big Alice is some of the best of the series and some may find it confusing, but it’s really not. There is a balance and a structure that’s there. At this point you either love or hate Rios’ style and I’m definitely in the former of the group.
It would be a crime not to mention Jordie Bellaire’s coloring as it is very different from the vast majority of titles she works on. Her coloring here has brought the entire world to life and made it feel like a western, but a western with a deep fantasy lore.
That’s one of the strongest elements of the series, the western lore that it creates. The west doesn’t have a complicated religious narrative that feeds into other elements of its stories, but thanks to this creative team it now has its own pantheon of characters that exist which is wonderful.
Chances are you didn’t miss out on this series considering how well it sold, but if for some reason you jumped off after the first couple of issues you should give it another shot and finish it out. That and you’re going to need to know what happens here if you’re going to read the second volume… and you want to read the second volume. At least I do.
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick Artist: Emma Rios Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 4/2/14 Format: Mini-Series - Print/Digital