By Oliver Gerlach
It’s not often that I get to review the second issue of something; usually, I can’t say more than “a promising start,” or something like that. Seeing a series continue and getting to comment on whether or not it lives up to that potential is something of a rarity in the world of indie comics review. White Ash #1 was one of those books; I liked it, but had concerns about certain aspects and wasn’t sure it would address them. Fortunately, White Ash #2 very much fixes the flaws of the first issue. Just note that this is a spoiler-free review; I’m not going to talk about anything more specific and plot-relevant than general tone and concepts.
To reiterate some of my review of the first issue, still applicable here: this is a beautiful book, with clean and charming art filled with energy and life. The colors fit perfectly, conjuring a strong sense of fairytale unreality and bringing the strange town of White Ash to life. Honestly, there’s no clear change in the art here, and that’s excellent. On the art alone, this book would be highly recommended. The letters are also good, fitting the art very nicely; the sound effects, in particular, deserve acknowledgment. This is, of course, unsurprising; Hughes both draws and letters the book, which makes sense of the unified visual aesthetic. I wasn’t aware of this when reviewing the first issue, but it explains a lot. Visually, this is a well polished and attractive package; Hughes’ work is very strong. Plus, as visible below, the cover to this issue is utterly charming and delightful.
I criticised the first issue for marketing itself as a sort of “Twin Peaks meets Lord of the Rings” story when there was no sign of the Lord of the Rings side of things, and I’m pleased to say that my concerns have been effectively addressed here. The blend of sinister Americana and Tolkienesque fantasy works well, and I’m now getting a strong sense of the promised tone. This is a strong second issue, which effectively ramps up the sinister elements and raises the stakes of the story.
White Ash started out well, but flawed, and is very much heading in the right direction at this point. There’s a bit more to it in this issue; this feels like a big, exciting story unfolding at its own pace, and I’m confident that the first issue’s potential isn’t going to waste in the slightest. It’s perhaps a little bit more of a shift from the first issue than I would have liked, but read together these form a very strong first act for the story overall. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where White Ash goes next.
White Ash #2
Writers: Charlie Stickney
Artists: Conor Hughes
Colors: Fin Cramb
Letters: Conor Hughes