Saints is a book that almost flew under my radar when the first issue came out. The covers have been striking, and they prominently feature an orange tone you don’t see many other places; one day, I ended up picking up the first issue and flipping through it at my local shop, and I’ve been reading the series ever since. In this issue, St.’s Sebastian, Blaise and Lucy have taken the advice of the Jesus Pimp painting that is secretly the angel Gabriel and found St. Stephen, patron saint of masons and stonebuilders. There’s a pretty awesome fight, and we finally start to get peeks behind the curtain of what’s going on in this world—to steal an Always Sunny phrase, we finally get to find out who the Saints are versus. Their enemies are righteous and they are brutal/metal as fuck, so it’ll be nice in the coming months to get out of Blaise’s head and see more relationships between characters build up—especially with the new power that Blaise has discovered.
Part of the appeal of Saints for me has been Benjamin Mackey’s strong artistic style. This book doesn’t look like anything else from Image for sure; it almost doesn’t look like anything else on the shelves at all. His style is very open and cartoonish without feeling childish, and his characters have excellent facial expressions. For a book with such a weird high concept, the characters feel grounded and real without feeling overexamined. Add into that the switches between pale, bright palettes for the saints and the dark, shadowy textures of the secret priests, it brings a nice dichotomy that the issues have been lacking until now. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how rad the ticker tape prophecies that come out of the Jesus Pimp Gabriel’s mouth are; it’s such a visually interesting way to make a painting talk, and it’s a real stroke of genius.
Lewis has a long history as a playwright and screenwriter, so it’s interesting to see him flexing his comic muscles in Saints. There’s a bit of the screenwriter left in this book; a lot of narrative captions to tell us what’s going on inside of Blaine’s head. But contrary to most books, that doesn’t bother me in Saints. It reads as a nice window into a character I don’t really get yet, so it helps me as a reader track along what Lewis wants me to track for Blaine’s journey. The captions feel focused and necessary, and they add to or subvert what’s happening in the panels. My only beef would be that there are occasionally three where one will do, but it’s never to the point that it feels intrusive.
These two artists are creating a singular book every month in Saints, and it’s really something special. It’s heaven vs. heaven without descending into Top Cow/Witchblade-y kinds of angst. It’s a bright book about a weird future, and possibly the end of the world. I love it.
Saints #3 Writer: Sean Lewis Aritst: Benjamin Mackey Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/9/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital